From the Miracle at Medinah to the Battle of Brookline and the War on the Shore at Kiawah Island, there is something uniquely special about the Ryder Cup on American soil.

The hoopla and the hollering, the fanfare and the ferocity. At times it felt like the cries of "U-S-A, U-S-A" were interrupted only at Hazeltine five years ago by the "I believe that we will win" chant, a nadir for the sporting songbook.

Let's go round again, then, this time at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where the show gets under way on Friday, three days of sporting theatre set to play out in front of a global audience.

Postponed from last year, there will be crowds lining the course in a full-blown face-off between the United States and Europe, led off by the foursomes and fourballs before Sunday's singles provide a tantalising climax.

It is hard not to love the Ryder Cup, whether a year-round golf fan or not, and here are five reasons we have taken it to our hearts.


1. THE AGGRO

Team golf changes the sport from top to bottom. This individual pursuit, the every-man-for-himself nature of tour golf, goes out of the window as players compete for the collective good. Players streamed in and out of news conferences on Tuesday, each declaring their commitment to fight for their locker-room chums. Many of the world's elite have assembled this week, but there will be no champion golfer, only a team triumph come Sunday evening.

Golf crowds might irritate players at times during the regular season, but by and large they are a respectful bunch. Yet at the Ryder Cup, frenzies break out as team allegiances change the perspective of spectators. The partisanship reflects that of a football game, boorishness breaks out and is frowned on, and then it breaks out again, and again, until it is part of the fabric of a Ryder Cup weekend. Telling a Ryder Cup crowd to dial down the aggro and the noise would likely only serve to ramp it up. The crowd feels a part of the event, players can be inspired and some will cower, and of course this happens on each side of the Atlantic. Don't expect anything different this weekend, besides the fact the crowd will be overwhelmingly American, given travel limitations.

"I think that the Ryder Cup epitomises everything that's great in the game of golf," Europe's Rory McIlroy said this week. "It's competitive, but there's also a lot of sportsmanship shown. And obviously there's partisan crowds and all of that, but that's part of being in a team environment. You're going to have a majority of the crowd rooting for one team or the other.

"I think the most animated I've been in my career has been at Ryder Cups. It just brings something out of you that you don't get playing individually. There's something more there when you're playing as part of a team, and everything you do doesn't just affect yourself but affects the other 11 players, the captain, the vice captains, all the support team."


2. THERE'S A STAR MAN

Although this is a team game, somebody has to be the hero. Three years ago, Italian Francesco Molinari won all five of his matches, the first European to ever do so, and in previous editions there have been unforeseen defining performances from the likes of Boo Weekley and Christy O'Connor Jnr.

There was a certain romance about the all-Spanish partnership between Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, master and apprentice, who won 12 points from their 15 matches together, and latterly their compatriot Sergio Garcia has gone on to amass the most points in a Ryder Cup career: 25.5 and counting.

The beauty is that the star man rarely happens to be the leading man. Tiger Woods, now a 15-time major champion, was 0-4 at the last Ryder Cup and has won just 13 of his 37 matches in the event.

This is a competition where Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter at least match, and arguably outrank Jack Nicklaus, despite neither European having a major to their name.


3. TENSION OFF THE COURSE

Nick Faldo was a wonderful Ryder Cup player but flopped as a captain at Valhalla in 2008, delivering a string of pairing puzzlers and a clanging confection of press-room and team-room missteps. Three years later, Graeme McDowell said: "What was missing for us? We didn't have that extra spark in the team room, didn't have that X-factor in terms of someone to get up and rally the troops. Jose Maria [Olazabal] gave a great speech on the Saturday evening when the singles line-up came out. But that was the first really emotional speech we'd had all week."

Captains know victory is everything, and their selection calls can define Ryder Cups as much as the players on the course perform. Find the right combinations and a captain can sit back and reap the benefits.

Few expect Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to partner each other at this Ryder Cup, amid a spat most assume is ongoing. DeChambeau looked to calm the chatter about his relationship with Koepka on Tuesday, saying much of the talk had been "driven by a lot of external factors, not necessarily us two".

"We had some great conversations in Tour Championship week when we had dinner, and then this week, as well," DeChambeau said. "I sat down and had dinner with him last night, and it was fine."

Steve Stricker, you suspect, would be wise to keep them apart in competition, but eliminating any sense of rivalry or enmity within a team can go a long way towards bringing success.


4. THE KITS CAN BE BAD

This year's outfits have a touch of class about them, understated elegance on both teams, which is always disappointing.

The Ryder Cup has delivered some shockers over the years, with a prime example being the USA's waterproofs that let in water during the 2010 match at Celtic Manor, forcing team chiefs to splash out on more reliable kit from on-site merch suppliers. Already garish, with large-lettered player names on the back of the shellsuit-like jackets, they were also considered not fit for purpose by several players as the rain came down in Wales.

In 1999, the USA committed a fashion faux pas with a shirt that featured scores of framed photographs of Ryder Cups gone by. It belonged on the bargain rails, but turned out to be the outfit in which the Americans sealed their win at Brookline, the images of their triumph enshrined in folklore, but surely never to feature on the shirts of any future cup team.

Europe have typically been more demure about their outfit selections, perhaps wary of being frowned on in the clubhouse or by history.


5. THE COMEBACKS

This is a sporting contest par excellence, and Europe's 17.5-10.5 annihilation of Tiger Woods and co three years ago in France means the hosts are craving delicious revenge.

USA wildcard Jordan Spieth is likely to be a major factor, given his strong season, and the three-time major winner describes the feeling of competing as like being in the thick of a title chase at a major championship.

"Maybe it takes two or three years if you're playing really well to have four or five times you're in contention in a major, but you get to do it three, four, five times this week," Spieth said.

On the final day, that sense is amplified, and a team's overnight lead is far from any guarantee of success. At Medinah in 2012, the US team led 10-4 at one stage on the Saturday, before Europe won the final two matches to narrow the gap, Poulter pulling out all the stops with a string of birdies as he and McIlroy took down Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

Still, Europe were up against it going into Sunday, but Justin Rose provided a highlight amid a rush of blue on the scoreboard as he scored a stunning win over Phil Mickelson in the singles, with the likes of Lee Westwood and Garcia also coming good before Martin Kaymer ensured Europe would retain the trophy and Molinari halved his clash with Woods to win the cup outfight by a 14.5-13.5 margin.

The USA roared back from 10-6 at Brookline to also win 14.5 to 13.5, with near riotous scenes at the end as players and spectators overstepped the mark by invading the green, interrupting Olazabal's mission to keep Europe in it.

Whether Whistling Straits sees a comparable comeback, one team waltzing away to win, or a close-fought battle, remains to be seen. Samuel Ryder's notion, back in the 1920s, that a team golf event between teams from either side of the Atlantic should make for a sporting spectacle, has proven to be one of sports great prophecies.

World number three Justin Thomas has played down the United States' favouritism at the upcoming Ryder Cup despite boasting eight of the current top 10 players in the world.

The US are seeking to re-claim the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits starting on Friday, with Europe having won seven of the past nine events. Europe has also won four of the past five Ryder Cups.

The hosts boast an excellent team, including 2021 Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa, last year's Masters' winner Dustin Johnson, last year's U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Xander Schauffele and recently crowned PGA Tour Player of the Year Patrick Cantlay.

Europe only has one player currently ranked inside the top 10, being 2021 U.S. Open champion and world number one Jon Rahm.

"You can dive as deep as you want into the pairings, into who's sitting, who's playing, but at the end of the day whatever team plays the best is going to win," Thomas said.

"We have 12 unbelievable players, they have 12 unbelievable players, and it's really just who's going to go out there and get it and who's going to go out and execute the best.

"I've watched many Ryder Cups on TV, and it's who makes the putts, who flips those matches, who grinds out the halves and who gets it done. I'd go to war with these 11 other guys and our captains like I'm going to do this week, and I have all the faith in the world in all the rookies. I think their experience proves that they are beyond rookies.

"It's going to be a fun week. It was a fun week for me in France just in terms of the atmosphere and experience and all, and I'm sure the fact that it's on U.S. soil will help those nerves a little bit."

Thomas revealed he had spoken to 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, who will not join the team in Wisconsin as he continues his rehabilitation from multiple leg injuries sustained in a car crash in February.

Woods has previously been involved in the past four team events for the US in some capacity, including as captain at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia.

"I got together with him a couple times last week," Thomas said. "More so just going over to see how he's doing as a friend, more than as a vice captain."

"He's so into it. He obviously wants the best for our team. He wants the best for all of us. It means a lot to him.

"I think people would be surprised -- obviously you all saw in Australia how much it meant to him, but just the amount of work and the amount of hours he's willing to spend to make sure that he feels like the team is prepared and as ready to go as possible is pretty cool.

"At the end of the day he also understands that we're 12 of the best players in the world, and we know how to play golf. Sometimes less is more, so I think he's great at balancing that out."

The United States are favourites to make home advantage count and regain the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits this weekend.

An emphatic 17.5-10.5 victory at Le Golf National in September 2018 saw Europe regain the trophy under Thomas Bjorn, as the likes of Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter played starring roles.

Yet while Europe have won six successive home Ryder Cups, their recent record on American soil has been mixed.

We take a look at the last five editions of the event in the USA.

 

2016 - Hazeltine

Result: United States 17 - 11 Europe

Europe had won three Ryder Cups in a row ahead of the 2016 event, but they were in for a shock at Hazeltine.

Darren Clarke's hopes of masterminding victory suffered a hammer blow on the first morning as the United States, captained by Davis Love III, pulled off a clean sweep of the Friday foursomes.

Rookies Thomas Pieters and Rafael Cabrera-Bello impressed as Europe narrowed their deficit, but the USA regained control in the second fourball session and went on to triumph by a six-point margin, the talismanic Patrick Reed defeating Rory McIlroy in a dramatic opening singles match to set the tone for the hosts.

2012 - Medinah

Result: United States 13.5 - 14.5 Europe

Is it really nine years since the 'Miracle of Medinah'?

In the first Ryder Cup since the death of European icon Seve Ballesteros, the Spaniard's close friend Jose Maria Olazabal oversaw the most remarkable of comebacks to ensure Europe retained the trophy they had claimed at Celtic Manor two years earlier.

The USA were 10-4 up on Saturday afternoon, having won five of the day's first six contests.

However, Europe crucially won the last two fourball contests, with Poulter the architect of an astonishing turnaround in the anchor match.

Poulter and his team-mates then overhauled a four-point deficit in the singles, something that had only happened once before in Ryder Cup history, with Martin Kaymer sinking the winning putt to spark emotional scenes of celebration from the visiting team.

2008 - Valhalla

Result: United States 16.5 - 11.5 Europe

No European golfer in the professional era has claimed more major titles than Nick Faldo's six and the Englishman was also the most prolific points scorer in Ryder Cup history before Garcia moved past his tally of 25 at Le Golf National.

However, Faldo was nowhere near as successful in a miserable stint as Europe's captain, which yielded a heavy defeat to Paul Azinger's United States team at Valhalla.

The infamous 'sandwich-gate' incident - in which Faldo was photographed holding an apparent list of pairings only to then claim, somewhat unfeasibly, it was a list of lunch requests - was not the only gaffe made by the former world number one before the event had even begun.

Europe were then handsomely beaten when the action did get under way, trailing throughout on their way to a 16.5-11.5 loss.

Hunter Mahan was the leading points-scorer for the USA, who prevailed in seven of the 12 Sunday singles contests, but the likes of Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley, Justin Leonard and J.B. Holmes were among others to play starring roles.

 

2004 - Oakland Hills

Result: United States 9.5 - 18.5 Europe

In contrast to Faldo, the meticulous Bernhard Langer did not put a foot wrong in 2004 as Europe stormed to victory by a record margin at Oakland Hills.

Every member of Langer's team contributed at least a point, with wildcard selections Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald among those to excel in a stunningly one-sided match.

In contrast, a USA team led by Hal Sutton and featuring three of the world's top 10 failed to deliver, with Chris DiMarco the only player to score more than two points for the hosts.

Montgomerie, in his penultimate Ryder Cup appearance as a player, famously holed the winning putt and went on to say: "That singles win over David Toms, in fact that whole week, rejuvenated me and my career."

 

1999 - Brookline

Result: United States 14.5 - 13.5 Europe

Prior to Europe's fightback at Medinah in 2012, the only previous instance of a team coming from four points behind in the singles came at Brookline, in distinctly fractious circumstances.

Mark James was Europe's skipper for an event sadly overshadowed by boorish abuse of visiting players by a partisan crowd and raucous scenes on the 17th hole on Sunday.

A mammoth putt from Leonard prompted an invasion of the green from the US team, even though Olazabal still had a putt of his own to come.

Ben Crenshaw's USA ultimately triumphed 14.5-13.5, but the 'Battle of Brookline' would be remembered for the wrong reasons.

In a subsequent autobiography, Sam Torrance - a vice-captain for Europe that week - described the final day of the 1999 event as: "the most disgraceful and disgusting day in the history of professional golf."

As Europe and the United States go through the motions, the ceremonies and the practice rounds that precede the serious business at Whistling Straits, spare a thought for those Ryder Cup heroes that might have been.

This will be officially the 2020 Ryder Cup, but the pandemic impact has not been merely to delay the showpiece by 12 months. The teams have taken a hefty shake-up too, since last season was so unexpectedly interrupted.

There are players that looked destined to play a big part on the Straits Course last year that will instead be far from Wisconsin, their hopes of starring having been scotched by the postponement.

Qualifying criteria were necessarily changed, to ensure it will be in-form players who line up for each team, and both the US and European teams would likely have looked radically different in September 2020.

Here is a look at some of the winners and losers of the team-picking puzzle from each side of the Atlantic.

EUROPE

Winners: Englishman Paul Casey had made a sketchy start to his bid to qualify for the team, with little to shout about before the COVID-19 crisis struck. He had time to make up ground, certainly, but Casey needed results quickly. He has since had them in abundance, with a tied-second finish at the US PGA Championship last year a reminder to Padraig Harrington that he wanted in on the action. Ten top-10 performances in 2021 catapulted the 44-year-old to automatic selection and a fifth appearance on the team.

Norway's Viktor Hovland was not in the conversation 18 months ago, when the tours ground to a mid-season halt, although a win at the Puerto Rico Open in February 2020 saw him leap from 100th to number 60 on the world rankings. The Oklahoma State University alum's form since golf resumed has been nothing short of spectacular, with 24-year-old Hovland climbing to a career-high ranking of 10th in August. Since the turn of the year, he has had seven top-five finishes, including a win at the BMW International Open, and his hot form could mean the heavy metal fan cranks up the dial for Europe.

Losers: Danny Willett and Victor Perez were firmly in the picture when the tours halted in March 2020, but neither will be making an appearance. Englishman Willett, the former Masters champion, has slumped from inside the world's top 40 golfers to outside the leading 150 on the rankings after a wretched run of results that meant he stood no hope of a wildcard.

Perez's form dipped at an inopportune moment, after he previously stayed firmly in the mix. Across his last five tournaments, Perez has endured five missed cuts – at The Memorial and all four of the majors – and no top-10 finishes, meaning the Frenchman could also not realistically be thought of as deserving of a call from Harrington.

Perez wrote on Twitter: "I am, of course, disappointed to not be selected to the team. However, this is an opportunity for me to evaluate, become stronger and apply new lessons to all parts of my career, and for that I am grateful."

UNITED STATES

Winners : The US were planning on picking four wildcards but switched that to six amid the COVID-19 uncertainty, meaning the automatic selections also shrank from eight to six, and their line-up for Whistling Straits looks markedly different to how it surely would have turned out a year ago.

On the fringes of the world's top 50 and emerging as a bright talent, in March 2020 Collin Morikawa still needed to get a move on to come into captain Steve Stricker's thinking. The 24-year-old is now a two-time major winner, ranked the number three best golfer on the planet, and he led the final US points list, reflecting his dramatic surge. Bryson DeChambeau would likely have found the results to make the team, given he was coming into form after a rocky spell; now he is a U.S. Open champion and has the big personality to take the Ryder Cup by storm. Patrick Cantlay also eventually qualified by right, winning the Tour Championship and consequently the $15million FedEx Cup, earning a debut.

Losers : All-time great Tiger Woods was still in the picture when global sport called a hiatus, yet the last time the 15-time major winner was seen in public he was struggling by on crutches after the February car crash that police said he was lucky to survive. Three-time Ryder Cup man Patrick Reed – 'Captain America' – was in the frame for an automatic pick, too, along with Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson, until the world changed.

Eighteen months down the line and those four have been usurped, with Stricker taking the players ranked seven to 10 on the points list (Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Harris English) as wildcard picks but deciding against choosing 11th-placed Reed or 13th-placed Simpson. He also selected the players in 12th and 14th (Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler).

Reed, having been troubled by pneumonia and an ankle injury lately, took his omission "like a true champion", Stricker said. Six rookies feature for the US, Stricker looking to the future but backing his team to succeed in the present.

US Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker says the bubbling feud between top 10 pair Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will be a "non-issue" at this weekend's team play event at Whistling Straits.

DeChambeau and Koepka have a history of trading public blows, having never hidden their dislike for one another.

Koepka called out DeChambeau for slow play in 2019, while the 2020 U.S. Open champion poked fun at the four-time major winner's physique in January last year.

DeChambeau's coach Mike Schy said this week that the 28-year-old wants to end the dispute, with that sentiment reiterated by Stricker prior to the Ryder Cup which starts on Friday as the US seeks to reclaim the trophy from Europe.

"It’s a non-issue, really, for me and the team," Stricker said. "We got together a few weeks ago and I’ve had conversations with them both.

"They have assured me it’s not going to be an issue. I have no worries whatsoever."

The US Ryder Cup team features 2021 Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa, 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay along with DeChambeau and Koepka.

Stricker unsurprisingly admitted that the latter two would likely not be paired together for the team play event.

"Will we pair them together? I don’t think so at this point but things could change," Stricker said.

"Could always happen but probably not. Again, I had a dinner; they all showed up. We had great conversation, great talks.

"I’m not seeing it as an issue at all and they are completely on board."

Stricker also revealed that 15-time major winner Tiger Woods will not attend the Ryder Cup this weekend as he continues his rehabilitation from his February car accident.

Woods, 45, sustained multiple leg injuries in the single vehicle collision accident.

"I think it’s just not a good time for him to be here physically because of where he’s at in his rehabilitation," Stricker said.

"It’s a tough course to walk. Everybody is going to see it, from tee-to-green, it’s difficult."

Woods has taken up roles at the past four international competitions with the US, including playing captain at the 2019 Presidents Cup and is passionate about team play.

"He's been obviously in my ear a lot and I call him pretty regularly," Stricker said. "He's part of our Ryder Cup team. He's part of what we do."

Stricker added: "He’s getting better and his focus and mine is on making a comeback to play again. We don’t want to get in the way of that because we would all love to see him come back and play."

Bryson DeChambeau wants to end his feud with Ryder Cup team-mate Brooks Koepka, according to the former's coach Mike Schy.

DeChambeau and Koepka have made their dislike for one another known since 2019, when the latter called out last year's U.S. Open champion for slow play.

World number seven DeChambeau duly responded by poking fun at Koepka's physique, with a leaked Golf Channel interview providing further fuel as the four-time major winner rolled his eyes as his rival walked behind the camera.

However, after Europe captain Padraig Harrington warned the pair could be a dangerous duo and the United States captain Steve Stricker tried to broker peace, coach Schy revealed his player's desire to end the hostility.

"Whether or not they are both doing it to maximise their global profile, Bryson [DeChambeau] wants it over," Schy told the Times on Monday.

"Move on. The bottom line is two big egos."

DeChambeau is set for his second Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits on Friday, while Koepka will take part in his third as they look to stop Europe from retaining the famous trophy.

Schy says DeChambeau is desperate to succeed in the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup after missing out on the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive COVID-19 test.

"He loves team play," Schy continued. "At times, when he’s struggling, it can look a little selfish, but the reality is he is doing his best to contribute."

The 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup is almost upon us. A year later than initially planned, the finest golfers Europe and the United States have to offer will do battle at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington's team will be looking to defend the title Europe clinched in Paris three years ago, while Steve Stricker's men will hope to make home advantage count as the USA look to win the tournament for only the third time since the turn of the century.

Ahead of the action in Wisconsin, Stats Perform looks back at some of the most memorable moments from tournaments gone by.

 

Miracle at Medinah, 2012

Where else to start other than a moment that is widely considered to be one of sport's greatest ever fightbacks. The "Miracle at Medinah" took place in Illinois nine years ago, with the Chicago crowd witnessing a remarkable European recovery, inspired by Ian Poulter – who will be playing again this weekend.

Europe were 4-10 down heading into the final day, with the USA needing just 4.5 points to win. Yet Poulter, who won all of his matches, got the ball rolling for the visiting team, who took 8.5 points from a possible 12 on the Sunday. Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner offered the hosts hope, but Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer won their matches to leave Tiger Woods needing to beat Francesco Molinari to secure a tie. The round was halved, ane Europe triumphed 14.5 to 13.5.

 

Battle of Brookline, 1999

Thirteen years prior to the Miracle at Medinah, the USA forged an incredible comeback of their own at Brookline, Massachusetts. Europe held a 10-6 lead heading into the final round, yet were pegged back as the USA, buoyed on by a vociferous crowd that riled some of the European players, with Colin Montgomerie coming in for particularly strong treatment, won the first six matches of Sunday's play.

Yet the decisive moment came when Jose Maria Olazabal – who would go on to lead Europe to victory at Medinah - lost three successive holes to Justin Leonard when he had been four up with seven to play. The match was tied on the 15th when the American holed a 40-foot putt, and on the 17th, Leonard struck a brilliant birdie, with the US team and fans storming onto the green in celebration as the half-point required to complete the comeback was secured. Olazabal still had a 25-foot putt to make to send the match to the 18th, only for the Spaniard's effort to trickle wide.

Torrance ends US dominance, 1985

The Belfry is entrenched in Ryder Cup history and, in 1985, Europe earned their first win in what was the fourth attempt since the team had spread to include the continent and not just players from Great Britain and Ireland.

Seve Ballesteros was in exceptional form, but it was left to captain Sam Torrance to sink a 22-foot putt, inflicting the United States' first defeat since 1957.

Clarke leads emotional European victory, 2006

Having taken a three-month break from golf following the loss of his wife, Heather, to cancer, Darren Clarke was named as a wildcard pick by Europe captain Ian Woosnam for the 2006 Ryder Cup, hosted in Clarke's native Northern Ireland at the K Club.

Clarke produced a performance for the ages, winning both of his pairs matches and going on to defeat Zach Johnson in his singles game. "I doubt there was a dry eye in the house," said Clarke afterwards, as Europe went on to secure an 18.5-9.5 win.

 

Langer fluffs his lines, 1991

Possibly the tightest Ryder Cup contest in history came at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, with the US taking a slim lead into the final day. However, by the time the final match rolled around, they needed half a point to reclaim the title.

It came down to the final hole, too. Bernard Langer required to hole a six-foot putt to tie his match with Hale Irwin, and Europe would keep their hands on the trophy. Yet he failed to do so, the ball rolling off the lip and away, with the US triumphing for the first time since 1983.

The concession, 1969

The Ryder Cup had been dominated by the United States from the end of World War II, with Great Britain (as the team was then) winning only one, in 1957.

However, the first tie in the Ryder Cup was recorded at Royal Birkdale in 1969, when American great Jack Nicklaus conceded a three-foot putt to Tony Jacklin at the 18th hole – the moment going down as one of the most famous gestures of sportsmanship. 

Paul Azinger says Brooks Koepka should relinquish his place on the United States Ryder Cup team if he does not want to play at Whistling Straits.

Four-time major winner Koepka raised eyebrows when stating in an interview with Golf Digest that he finds the prestigious event "a bit odd" and "hectic".

The former world number one revealed he finds playing in a team event difficult to adapt to, as he is unable to get into a usual routine that he would have during a major tournament.

Azinger, who captained the USA to victory over Europe in 2008, says Koepka ought to give someone else the chance to play in Wisconsin if he is not fully committed.

"I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said during a conference call for NBC Sports.

"If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

Azinger added of Koepka, who has been troubled by a wrist injury: "Not everybody embraces it.

"But if you don't love and you're not sold out, then I think Brooks - especially being hurt - should consider whether or not he really wants to be there."

Azinger continued: "Brooks is one of the most candid, most honest guys there is, and if he's blatantly honest with himself and doesn't want to be there, he should come out and say it."

The United States start their bid to regain the Ryder Cup a week on Friday.

Henrik Stenson has been named as Europe's fifth and final vice-captain for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington has turned to the vast experience of Swede Stenson to complete his backroom team for a showdown with the United States that starts in Wisconsin next Friday.

The 2016 Open champion has played in the prestigious biennial competition five times, lifting the famous trophy on three occasions.

Stenson, 45, has won 11 points from 19 Ryder Cup matches and came out on top in all three in the last edition at Le Golf National in 2018.

 

"It's a great honour to get the call and to be involved with Team Europe. I've been part of five Ryder Cup teams in the past and to be given the opportunity as a vice-captain to help Europe's quest to retain the Ryder Cup is exciting," said Stenson.

"Padraig called me on Monday morning and it was not a long conversation. I accepted straight away and I assured him that myself, along with the other vice-captains, are there to help and assist him and the team in any way we can.

"We have a very strong team. It's a mix of huge experience along with three guys who will take on their first Ryder Cup – and that's a great combination. We have strength in depth so I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing the boys perform.

"It's no secret that winning on away soil is always a little bit harder, but the boys are ready for that challenge. It's all going to come down to how well we play during the week, but I have every faith in our team."

Robert Karlsson, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell are Harrington's other vice-captains.

Sergio Garcia enters his 10th Ryder Cup as the all-time leading scorer in the competition but he is thinking only of another team victory as he looks ahead to Whistling Straits.

Europe have won four of the last five and nine of the last 12 showdowns with the United States but Garcia is hungry for more at the delayed 2021 edition, to be held September 24-26.

He pointed out that the Americans still hold an overwhelming edge in the history of the biennial event, with 26 wins compared to only 14 for their opposition. 

"We still have some catching up to do, and that's a goal to try to tilt the balance to our favour when it comes in the global score of the Ryder Cup," Garcia told reporters after being selected for this year's team by captain Padraig Harrington. 

The USA's advantage stems mostly from the days when a player from Spain like Garcia would not have been eligible to contest the Cup. 

From its inception in 1927 through 1971, Great Britain provided the sole opposition. The next three Ryder Cups, from 1973-77, added players from Ireland as well. 

The Americans won 18 and lost three, with one tie, across that span before a full European team was first fielded in 1979. The USA won the first three after that format change but Europe are 11-5-1 since 1985. 

Garcia has been a huge part of that success since making his debut in 1999 as a 19-year-old.

At the last edition in Paris in 2018, Garcia raised his career point total to 25.5, passing Nick Faldo to become the highest-scoring player in history, but team success was – and remains – top of mind.

"Being the highest points-scorer in Ryder Cup history, that was never my goal," Garcia said. "It's something that I never thought about because I was always focused on winning the Ryder Cup as a team.

"So I never thought, oh, you know, even if we lose, if I win three or 3.5 points, I had a great Ryder Cup. No, that doesn't do it to me.

"I've always said it; I could win five matches. If we don't win the Ryder Cup, it's not a good Ryder Cup for me.

"I'm not one of those guys that would look at the individual stats over the team stats on that particular week.

"It's not the way my brain works and probably is one of the reasons why I've been fortunate to be a part of so many teams and do so well in it."

It also helps that Garcia cares so deeply about the competition and has always seemed to feed off the team dynamic and the unique atmosphere around any Ryder Cup gallery. 

He knows Europe will face the full wrath of the fans in Wisconsin, particularly with COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel from Europe. 

"Obviously when we're in the US, we are always out-numbered when it comes down to [crowds]. But this year is going to be even more," he said. "So the way you look at it, you can look at it two ways: You can feed off the energy that their crowd is going to have, and also you can feed off your good moments how they will get quiet and how you can quiet their crowds.

"I think that's going to be important and it's going to be important for everyone to know that when the course is quiet, this is a good thing for Europe."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has selected Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Justin Rose on the 12-player roster.

Rose has competed in five of the last six editions of the biennial tournament, but he was overlooked by Harrington after a poor season on the PGA Tour that saw him fail to make the top 125 on the order of merit list.

Harrington opted for experienced names in Garcia and Poulter, while Lowry was given a reprieve of sorts after being knocked out of the automatic selection places when Bernd Wiesberger finished tied-20th at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Wiesberger, Poulter, Garcia and Lowry join Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Viktor Hovland, who all qualified through the rankings.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, with all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said on Sunday.

Asked about the inclusion of Poulter, who is set to compete in his seventh Ryder Cup, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

Europe are looking to retain the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month following their 17.5-10.5 triumph over the United States in Paris three years ago.

USA finalised their squad on Wednesday, with captain Steve Stricker selecting Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks.

Schauffele was one of four rookies chosen by Stricker along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the beaten side in 2018 – completing the captain's picks.

Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay had already locked in spots for the USA.

Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood secured their places in Europe's Ryder Cup team as Billy Horschel prevailed on a dramatic final day of the BMW PGA Championship. 

Four automatic places were there for the taking at Wentworth. Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick were already all but assured of their spots at Whistling Straits, with Wiesberger, Westwood, Shane Lowry and Justin Rose fighting to book their tickets. 

Lowry and Rose entered the final 18 holes with work to do and both ended up falling short. Rose's seven-under 65, which saw him finish three strokes behind Horschel on 16 under, was not enough to get him on either the European or World points lists. 

Irishman Lowry needed to finish in the top eight to qualify but endured a disappointing final day, a one-under 71 seeing him go 12 under for the tournament and leaving the 2019 Open champion down in tied 17th. 

Wiesberger carded a level-par 72 as he closed on 11 under, that score sufficient to dislodge Rory McIlroy from the European points list. 

Meanwhile, Westwood is set to equal Nick Faldo's record for Ryder Cup appearances by playing for Europe for the 11th time. 

Like McIlroy, Westwood qualifies via the World points list despite a five-over 77 that left him down in a four-way tie for 71st. 

At the sharp end of the leaderboard, it was Horschel who emerged from a tightly packed field thanks to his final-round 65. 

He was tied with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jamie Donaldson and Laurie Carter on 18 under, but a tremendous approach over the water at the last gave Horschel a simple putt for birdie. 

Carter was unable to replicate Horschel's feat, giving the American his second European Tour title of the year and his first triumph in a Rolex Series event. 

Francesco Laporta heads into the final round at the BMW PGA Championship with a one-shot advantage after a solid effort on Saturday.

The Italian may not have carded one of the day's most impressive scores, with three players managing to go round in 66, but his three-under 69 was enough to put him top after starting the day third.

Laporta carded an eagle on the five-par fourth as the world number 264 made the turn in 34, before producing a composed back nine to climb to the summit.

A couple of birdies and seven pars put him a shot ahead of Canter and helped capitalise on the struggles of overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

His scores of 64 and 68 were followed up by an untidy 74 on Saturday, seeing the Thai drop to 10 under for the tournament, four adrift of Laporta.

The leader was understandably delighted with his day's work, though he accepts he may have to be better with the putter if he is to bring the trophy home.

"It was a great day for me, I hit the ball pretty solid. I missed some putts on last four holes, but I'm pretty happy with my game," he said. "The best thing I did today was to focus shot by shot.

"I just have to try do better tomorrow [with the putting]. I was feeling okay, not so under pressure, but tomorrow will be different."

Laurie Canter held a share of the lead with Laporta at the eighth after sinking a brilliant 20-foot putt for a birdie and then drew level again at the 12th, but ultimately ended the day a shot behind in second.

Four players are a further shot back and then another three head into the final day on 11 under for the tournament.

Two of them are Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger – the latter just needs to finish in the top 50 to secure a spot in the Europe's Ryder Cup team, while the former is just behind Lee Westwood for the final automatic berth in Padraig Harrington's team.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat holds a one-shot lead over Laurie Canter after the second round of the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Aphibarnrat shared the overnight lead with Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who went round in level par on Friday, but a four-under 68 moved him into top spot as the Thai sits on 12 under.

Canter, who has only seven European Tour top-10 finishes since 2010, was joint-fourth after Thursday's play but a second-round 66 placed him one stroke shy of Aphibarnrat.

Returning to the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2006, Adam Scott sits in third place after recovering from a double-bogey six on the third to reach 10 under.

Scott's playing partner Justin Rose, who knows victory at Wentworth will guarantee an outright spot in Padraig Harrington's Ryder Cup team, joined Jamie Donaldson and Billy Horschel in a share of fourth after carding 68, which put him on nine under overall.

Ryder Cup hopeful Shane Lowry finds himself embroiled in numerous qualification scenarios with Bernd Wiesberger, who closed on six under, and is now four shots back from the lead after producing a six-under 66.

The Irishman is part of a seven-man group in a tie for seventh and the 2019 Open Champion feels he is thriving under the pressure of securing a spot at Whistling Straits on September 24.

"Coming here with a little bit of pressure on me needing to perform and play well and I've done that the first two days," he said. "I'm pretty happy to be honest.

"Obviously I want to make the [Ryder Cup] team automatically. I think I've played some really good golf over the last few months to put my hat in for a pick on Sunday evening if I do need one.

"I'm here to win the golf tournament."

Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Christiaan Bezuidenhout finished eight-under par to share the first-round lead at the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Aphibarnrat, whose last of four European Tour wins came in 2018, produced a magnificent back-nine run of seven birdies in eight holes to finish with a bogey-free 64.

Late starter Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who won two European Tour events in 2020, reached five-under through the front nine before closing with three consecutive birdies to claim joint-top spot.

Former world number one Adam Scott made his first appearance in the European Tour's flagship event since 2006 and sits one shot back in third, a bogey on the 16th his only blemish in an otherwise impressive seven-under 65.

Amid the backdrop of European Ryder Cup team selection, Justin Rose finished two shots behind playing partner Scott to occupy joint-fourth place, knowing victory at Wentworth will guarantee his place to face the United States on September 24.

But the 2016 Olympic champion, who is tied with Laurie Carter and Masahiro Kawamura, is enjoying the pressure and appreciates his Ryder Cup destiny is in his own hands.

"All eyes are on me now, which is great," Rose told Sky Sports. "That is a good start where I can focus on the positive scenario, which is me winning the tournament to get into the team by right.

"That [winning] is obviously Plan A, then Plan B is all of the other stuff.

"I didn't actually appreciate how many scenarios were still in play this week with so many players, so there's a lot to shake out obviously over the next few days."

European captain Padraig Harrington, who completed a level-par first round, will also make three wildcard picks for Whistling Straits, opening chances for the likes of Rose, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.

Prior to Thursday, Shane Lowry occupied the ninth and final qualifying position for the European Ryder Cup team but the selections will be finalised after the conclusion at Wentworth.

The 2019 Open champion recorded a two-under 70, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger wrestling back four shots with a birdie-eagle finish for his 71 to maintain pressure for the final qualification spot.

Francesco Molinari is out of contention for the Ryder Cup after a poor run of form but record a three-under 69, while defending champion Tyrell Hatton struggled to two-over on day one.

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