2021 Ryder Cup Preview: Stock Report for Team USA & Europe at Whistling Straits
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Cantlay.
- The Ryder Cup brings 24 of the world's best golfers together this week in Wisconsin.
- Not all of them have necessarily been active of late since the end of the PGA TOUR season.
- Chris Murphy breaks down his pre-Ryder Cup stock report for bettors below.
Every couple of years we get treated to one of the greatest events in golf, the Ryder Cup. This year it will be hosted stateside at Whistling Straits, which is set to play long, as designed by the Americans.
Captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington made their final selections for their respective teams over the past few weeks, which led to plenty of debate especially on the American side. The biggest name that will be watching from home this week is Captain America himself, Patrick Reed, as he didn’t make the cut. Instead, there will be some fresh faces including Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler on this year’s squad as the Americans look to capture the cup for just the second time since 2008.
USA comes into the week as -200 favorites to win, and rightfully so as it does appear to be a bit of a mismatch on paper. That really has been the case for an extended timeframe though, and it always seems that the European side comes together better than the Americans. Either way, it will be an exciting week of golf, full of drama, possibly on and off the course.
There is no one coming into the week hotter than Patrick Cantlay. He won each of the final two playoff events and was awarded Player of the Year honors after his four-win season. He will look to roll that hot game into his first Ryder Cup as he headlines the group of rookies for Team USA.
Cantlay has gained more than four shots tee to green on the field in three of his last four events. Two of those were playoff events with the best players in the world teeing it up. He’s really had his full game, especially his steady ball-striking as he grabbed hold at the end of the season to win the FedEx Cup, and a cool $15,000,000.
If Jon Rahm hadn’t been the only Ryder Cup player to tee it up this week at the Fortinet Championship to start the new season, we would all have him in the “hot” category. I am not going to ding him for that missed cut after an odd scenario with some stomach issues, especially after the season he just put together.
The Spaniard was likely Cantlay’s closest competition for Player of the Year, and if I had a vote, he would’ve gotten it from me. He ranks number one in the world and played like it nearly every time he teed it up. His bouts with COVID cost him some events, and certainly one win that ironically went to Cantlay at the Memorial. Before the Fortinet this week, Rahm was on a run of six straight top-10 finishes, with three of those coming at major championships, and the other three being playoff events. That is an incredible run of golf, and I don’t think too many Europeans are concerned about a missed cut leading into the week.
It’s hard to peg anyone who really isn’t playing well when we are talking about the best players in the world in a 24-man team event. However, Matt Fitzpatrick sticks out as trying to find his game a bit leading into Whistling Straits.
The positive for the Englishman is that he posted a top 20 in his latest tournament at the European Tour’s BMW Championship. That finish was enough to lock him in to the European side, but it’s concerning that the result was only his second finish in the top 20 on any tour going back to mid-June. His only one stateside since the spring was a 10th-place finish back at the Palmetto Championship. It certainly wasn’t a season to remember for Fitzpatrick, and his play has to be concerning for the Europeans heading into a course that will play really long for a guy that is one of the shorter hitters in the event.
While Collin Morikawa certainly had a season to remember, it was a playoffs to forget. He has pointed to back issues since the Tokyo Olympics, and it seems pretty apparent in his play. The Champion Golfer of the Year missed the cut at the Northern Trust and beat exactly 10 players in each of the next two events.
Morikawa, known for his ball-striking prowess, really struggled over that stretch, losing strokes to the field tee to green in all three events. He is universally seen as one of, if not the, best iron player in the world, but even that part of his game was an issue during the playoffs. He would be a great partner for this event, whether in four-ball or alternate shot, with his typical consistency and approach play, but there are a lot of questions in his game going into his first Ryder Cup.