The Ryder Cup, the last big golf event of the year, is upon us. Team Europe and Team USA will square off as two 12-man teams and take part in match-play contests spanning three days. The first two days (Friday and Saturday) will be composed of team play with four alternate-shot matches and four bestball matches (so two, four-match sessions on each day). The final day will see 12 single matches for a total of 28 matches, overall.
The following players compose the two squads:
U.S.: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Harris English, Daniel Berger, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa
Europe: Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Bernd Wiesberger, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Tyrrell Hatton
WHISTLING STRAITS — Mosel, Wisc.
Par 71, 7,501 yards
The Ryder Cup will visit Whistling Straits for the first time. The Pete Dye-designed venue is no stranger to big competitions, however, as it has hosted the PGA Championship twice, most recently in 2015 when Jason Day grabbed his first and only major title. The venue can best be described as an American Links course, as it’s virtually bare of any defense to the wind, sits right on the coast of Lake Michigan and has some large bunkering and waste areas that play as homages to some of the deep pot bunkers often seen in the older links courses.
Even though it looks link-ish, Whistling Straits is truly just a long, open test of golf that should favor American-style players. Driver should be a very prevalent club here as many of the doglegs and shorter par 4s will be open to “shortcuts” off the tee by the big hitters. The venue looks set to play as a par 71 this year (it was a par 72 in the past) with two of the par 5s playing over 590 yards.
The Americans look like they’ve picked a great course from a style standpoint. In 2015, Day gained over +7.0 strokes Off the Tee here on his way to a lopsided win. That season, eight of the top nine players in the final standings gained +3.0 strokes or more against the field in Off the Tee stats. Dustin Johnson ($12,300 CP; $8.200), Brooks Koepka ($11,100 CP; $7,400), Jordan Spieth ($13,200 CP; $8,800) and Tony Finau ($10,800 CP; $7,200) all finished inside the top 12 at Whistling that year.
The theme here then will certainly be to concentrate on big hitters, but this course is open and can be massively impacted by wind. Thus, players like Shane Lowry ($9,000 CP; $6,000), Tommy Fleetwood ($11.700 CP; $7,800) and Jon Rahm ($14,700 CP; $9,800) — all great Open Championship players who have thrived at seaside venues — could have an advantage as well. Expect this venue to play tricky if the wind gets up, but also cede lots of birdies if the wind stays down. Players who have had success at places like Pebble Beach, Hilton Head and in past Open Championships should thrive here.
2021 Weather: The weather doesn’t look like it’s going to be a huge issue, but don’t expect perfect conditions either. Highs will likely be in the 65-70 degree range, making it slightly cooler and thus also meaning the course could play longer than advertised. There’s some early week rain in the forecast, but sun and clouds are only expected for the three days of play. Watch who comes out of the gate quickly this week.
Last 5 winners
2018—Europe 17½–10½ (Le Golf National)
2016—USA 17–11 (Hazeltine)
2014—Europe 16½–11½ (Gleneagles)
2012—Europe 14½–13½ (Medinah)
2010—Europe 14½–13½ (Celtic Manor)
1. Justin Thomas: Led in points at the last Ryder Cup, going 4-1, and was 3-1 at the last President’s Cup. He’s been by far the most impressive golfer on this young American team in team-play format over the past five years or so.
2. Ian Poulter: Poulter is 4-0-1 in his past five singles matches in the Ryder Cup and beat Dustin Johnson 2-up at the last Ryder Cup in 2018. He’s 45 years old now, but his domination in team play hasn’t waned at all as he grabbed wins over both Tony Finau and Kevin Kisner at the WGC match-play event in 2019.
3. Paul Casey: Casey is another in a long line of great European match-play competitors. The Englishman has reached the final at the match-play event and holds a 14-9-4 lifetime team record. He’s played great in 2021, for the most part, and should be a key member of the European team this week.
4. Dustin Johnson: Johnson’s match-play work can often go underrated given his amazing stroke-play accomplishments. He’s a former winner of the WGC match-play event and has gone 7-4-1 in the foursome team-play format over his career.
5. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is another former winner of the WGC match-play event. The Northern Irishman has lost his last two Ryder Cup singles matches (to Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas) but has a 32-17-3 career singles record overall.
The golfer you draft as your Captain will earn 1.5x the standard fantasy point value for each statistic, streak, and bonus.
Per Hole Scoring
Holes Won: +3 Pts
Holes Halved: +0.75 Pts
Holes Lost: -0.75 Pts
Holes Not Played: +1.6 Pts
Matches Won: +5 Pts
Matches Halved: +2 Pts
Streaks and Bonuses
Streak of 3 Consecutive Holes Won in Match (Max 1 Per Round}): +5 Pts
No Holes Lost in Match Bonus: +7.5 Pts
European Targets: Look to Hovland and Casey as Values
The European team has a couple of studs in Rory McIlroy ($13,800 CP; $9,200) and Rahm, both of whom I expect to play in five matches this week. Given Rahm’s sickness (stomach) from last week, Rory might actually be the better target of those top two players, but I also like both Paul Casey ($10,200 CP; $6,800) and Viktor Hovland ($12,600 CP; $8,400) to potentially get leaned on more here. Both men rank among the elites in terms of ball striking, both have had great success on coastal-style venues and both can match the power and consistency the Americans are bringing off the tee. In terms of value plays from Europe, don’t go too crazy. They’re likely to mix and match a lot, but I do think both Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton ($9,300 CP: $6,200) could see a lot of action. Lowry would be my favorite of the two as he ended the year in great form and won’t be intimidated by either the big venue or the American talent, whom he has competed against on a regular basis the past two years.
American Targets: Pay up for Thomas, pay down for Dustin
Justin Thomas ($14,100 CP; $9,400) bringing his A-game has been the one big constant for the American team over the past five years or so of international match play. Thomas has posted winning records in the team format in the past three international events for the U.S. and carries a sterling 9-1-2 career team record in match-play formats. With lots of rookies expect to see both Thomas and Johnson a lot. Johnson ended the year strong with a T8 at the Tour Championship where he shot four rounds in the 60s, and also sets up great for Whistling Straits. He’s 20-16-1 lifetime in singles matches. From a value perspective, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Scottie Scheffler ($8.700 CP: $5,800) play a decent amount. He’s really solid off the tee, has proven match-play upside (second in WGC match play this year) and finished 2021 strong.
Oh, Captain: Viktor Hovland ($12,600 CP)
Despite often being compared alongside American-born players, Hovland’s Norwegian heritage puts him on the European team this week and that should mean heavy usage here on a squad that is at a talent deficit against the stacked U.S. team. Hovland has been on a tear for much of 2021, a season that saw him grab a win early in Mexico and then another over in Europe at the BMW International Open. His recent form coming into this event looks fabulous too, as he was able to vault himself into a T5 finishing position at the Tour Championship with a final-round 65 at an event where he shot 11-under-par for the week.
Ranked second on Strokes Gained: Ball Striking over the past 50 rounds, of anyone on the PGA TOUR from last season, Hovland has the goods here to dominate a course like Whistling Straits where aggressive ball-striking can be rewarded. Expect the Europeans to deploy him early and often and for any success they have as a team to come as a result of a huge week from him. At just $12.6K in the Captain’s spot, he’ll also give you tons of flexibility to stack other high-usage studs (aka, players with a shot to play in all five matches), which will be key for any high finishes in big field GPPs.
Valuetown: Tony Finau ($7,200)
While he’s yet to have a monster Ryder Cup performance, 2021 does feel like a potential coming-out party for Finau. The 34-year-old broke through with his second PGA TOUR victory in the playoffs to cap off a great year that saw him vault to No. 9 in the OWGR. This season will mark his second time being a part of the American Ryder Cup squad and third time in international competition (he also played in the 2019 President’s Cup). That actually makes him one of the more experienced players on this year’s team and could mean heavier usage off the start, especially given the way he ended the season.
Finau also sets up as the prototypical player for Whistling Straits as he has the power to carry doglegs and the shorter par 4s off the tee and is also a great long-iron player. He finished T10 at this venue for the 2015 PGA Championship, which was before he’d really arrived as a top player and gives you a good idea of his upside this week. With some of the other big hitters like Brooks Koepka either hurting or out of form (or simply not caring about this event), I like targeting Finau here at a really cheap price as his chances of seeing four-plus matches seem solid this week.
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