This week marks the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup, the (usually) biennial competition between twelve players from the United States and (since 1979) twelve from the European Union (prior to 1979, it was Great Britain and Ireland).
The selection process for the Ryder Cup seems to be in a constant state of flux. In 2021, the American team consists of six golfers who qualified for the team via a points system, and six who were named to the team by Captain Steve Stricker.
Qualifying points for the American team were earned based performance in PGA TOUR tournaments. The qualifying period ran from 2019 until after the 2021 BMW Championship in August.
In 2021, Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay all qualified.
Stricker then added Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler.
The number of Captains picks has been increasing on the US side over the years. In 2014, there were nine automatics and three Captain’s picks. In 2016, that was changed to eight automatics and four Captain’s picks.
The PGA of America, which runs the American Ryder Cup team (not the PGA TOUR), has pretty obviously been trying to find a way to reverse the poor fortunes of their team over the past decade.
On the European side, there are nine automatic picks based on points and three Captain’s picks. Because so many of Europe’s top golfers spend significant time playing the PGA TOUR, their points qualifying system is a hybrid. For four of the nine, qualification is based on combined points earned on the European and PGA Tours. Five more are selected based on the “World Points List.” That leaves just three Captain’s picks.
Points qualifiers for the 2021 European Ryder Cup team are Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger.
European Captain Padraig Harrington then added Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry.
In addition to the players, each Captain traditionally names a number of Vice-Captains to help with the skipper’s chores. I honestly don’t know why they wouldn’t stay in the nautical theme and call them Lieutenants or First Mates.
Vice Captains also are theoretically Captains-in-Waiting, gaining experience before taking the helm themselves.
A list of US and European Ryder Cup team members follow.
|Davis Love III||Vice-Captain|
|Tony Finau||Captain’s pick|
|Xander Schauffele||Captain’s pick|
|Jordan Spieth||Captain’s pick|
|Harris English||Captain’s pick|
|Daniel Berger||Captain’s pick|
|Scottie Scheffler||Captain’s pick|
|Sergio Garcia||Captain’s pick|
|Ian Poulter||Captain’s pick|
|Shane Lowry||Captain’s pick|