The 2021 Ryder Cup: Team USA Player Profiles

US skipper Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker has named his six captain's picks

The 12-man US team for Whistling Straits is now known after skipper Steve Stricker added six wildcard picks to the six automatic qualifiers...

"JT was the top US points scorer on his Ryder Cup debut, gaining four wins out of five at Le Golf National, while he secured 3.5pts in both the 2017 and 2019 Presidents Cups. On those numbers, Thomas immediately stands out as a good bet for top US points scorer."

Back Justin Thomas to be top US points scorer @ 8.07/1


Collin Morikawa

Rank: 1st

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The Open champion has played in plenty of amateur team events, winning three of his four contests across the Arnold Palmer Cup, Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy. In the 2017 Walker Cup he won all four matches.

This will be his Ryder Cup debut (he hasn't played Presidents Cup either) and, in theory, Morikawa should be an integral part of the American team following his superb 2021. The worry is that it tailed off after he picked up a back injury and some resultant bad habits, leading to FedEx Cup Playoff results of MC-63-28 (the latter out of 30).


Dustin Johnson

Rank: 2nd

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Like many of the modern-day Americans, Johnson has a losing record overall of seven wins and nine losses. However, on US soil he's won five and lost two of his seven matches, enjoying a perfect 3-0-0 record at Medinah in 2012.

Whistling Straits is the scene of his famous two-shot penalty when on the brink of victory in the 2010 PGA Championship but in the two majors DJ has played there he's finished fifth and seventh so the course is an excellent one for him. Further credentials are shown by a strong Presidents Cup record (W10-L6-H2) and a win in the 2017 WGC-Match Play.


Bryson DeChambeau

Rank: 3rd

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DeChambeau had a nightmare in Paris in the 2018 Ryder Cup, losing all three matches after being given a wildcard. He also managed just 0.5pts (lowest on the US team) in the 2019 Presidents Cup when playing just two matches.

The obvious question for captain Steve Stricker: who do you pair him with? In theory, he should be an asset on a course which suits big hitters but how often will Stricker use him if there are easier partnerships to form elsewhere?


Brooks Koepka

Rank: 4th

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Koepka played in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, winning three points out of four (two alongside Brandt Snedeker) but losing when teamed up with Dustin Johnson. He managed just 1.5pts out of four at Le Golf National while won two and lost two in his only Presidents Cup appearance at Liberty National in 2017.

As well as the ongoing spat with DeChambeau which threatens to cause unrest, Koepka's frequent injury problems just won't go away and he pulled out of the Tour Championship with a sore wrist. A positive: his fifth place in the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits.


Justin Thomas

Rank: 5th

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Thomas hasn't had his best season but ended it well with a pair of top fours in two of the three FedEx Cup Playoff tournaments.

JT was the top US points scorer on his Ryder Cup debut, gaining four wins out of five at Le Golf National, while he secured 3.5pts in both the 2017 and 2019 Presidents Cups. On those numbers, Thomas immediately stands out as a good bet for top US points scorer. He was also tied 18th at Whistling Straits on his US PGA debut in 2015.


Patrick Cantlay

Rank: 6th

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The hottest player in men's golf after a four-win season which culminated in Cantlay capturing the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, landing him the $15m FedEx Cup jackpot.

While his quiet nature doesn't seem ideal for team competition, he was the joint-second top scorer for the Americans in the 2019 Presidents Cup (3pts) in Melbourne. That's his only experience of a team event since the 2011 Walker Cup when he won 2.5pts in four matches.


Daniel Berger

Wildcard

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With top 10s in the final two majors of 2021 (T8 at the Open Championship and T7 in the US Open), Berger had done plenty to advertise his credentials as a wildcard pick. He also won at Pebble Beach earlier in the season.

As for team golf, he won two of his four matches in the 2013 Palmer Cup while, of more relevance, is his promising performance in the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National. Berger won two and lost one of his three matches and was just one of three Americans to win their Sunday singles (2&1 v Si Woo Kim). The Ryder Cup debutant missed the cut at Whistling Straits in the 2015 US PGA.


Harris English

Wildcard

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Between last year's Tour Championship and the one just completed at East Lake last Sunday, English climbed 34 spots to 11th on the world rankings. The jump was due to a two-win season and a pair of top fours in the two US Opens played in that timeframe.

It means, at long last, he finally gets to play a team event as a pro having never previously been on a US Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup side. English, who won both his singles matches at the 2011 Walker Cup, was T48 in the 2015 US PGA at Whistling Straits but he's come on leaps and bounds since then and was a fairly obvious wildcard pick.


Tony Finau

Wildcard

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A big hitter, who showed his liking for Whistling Straits with tied 10th there on his US PGA debut in 2015, Finau was always going to be high on the list for a wildcard pick. He made that a certainty when finally getting his second PGA Tour win with victory at The Northern Trust last month.

Finau was one of the few Americans to emerge with any credit from their heavy loss at Le Golf National in 2018 as he scored two wins and a loss in his three matches, thrashing Tommy Fleetwood 6&4 in the singles. It didn't go so well in the Presidents Cup in 2019 when he halved three of his four matches and lost the other. He'll be a popular and uniting presence in the dressing room.


Xander Schauffele

Wildcard

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A player for the big events, as shown by his numerous top fives and 10s in majors and victory in the men's Olympic golf tournament in Japan earlier this summer. In short, he was a no-brainer for a wildcard pick.

The popular and easy-going Californian is a Ryder Cup rookie but gained useful experience at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia. Schauffele was used in all five matches, winning three and losing two, to emerge as the USA's joint-second highest scorer. His wins included a 2&1 success over local hero Adam Scott in the singles.


Scottie Scheffler

Wildcard

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Captain Stricker wasn't short of candidates for his six wildcard picks but the venue was always going to boost Scheffler's cause. Whistling Straits calls for length and power and the Texan has that in abundance.

While he hasn't played Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, Scheffler showed his match play chops with a superb run to the final of this year's WGC-Match Play where he lost to Billy Horschel. He's played plenty of head-to-head amateur golf and, of course, finishing in the top 10 in the final three majors of 2021 shows he has the class and temperament for the big events.


Jordan Spieth

Wildcard

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Spieth has been on the winning side in just one of his three Ryder Cups but he's made solid contributions in all of them. He banked 2.5pts at both Gleneagles (2014) and Hazeltine (2016) and won three of his five matches at Le Golf National (2018). He's played in 14 of the 15 sessions at those Ryder Cups so US captains will always lean on him.

That will surely be the case again at Whistling Straits where he was runner-up in the 2015 US PGA Championship and, although his season slightly petered out a little (73-34-24 in the Playoffs), he's been excellent for most of 2021. An easy wildcard choice for Stricker.

THE BET: BACK JUSTIN THOMAS TO BE TOP US POINT SCORER @ 8

A decent recipe for a good points scorer punt is finding an in-form player with a proven record in the competition.

Justin Thomas very much fits that bill after ending a somewhat understated campaign with a pair of top four finishes in two of the final three FedEx Cup Playoff events.

He was virtually the one American success story in the last Ryder Cup in Paris when outscoring the entire 24-man line-up while he also top scored for Team USA in the 2019 Presidents Cup.

Thomas will virtually be guaranteed all five matches with captain Steve Stricker rightfully viewing him as one of the Americans' main weapons.

Add in a course that should suit his game and Thomas has the perfect stage on which to show his match play mettle once again.

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