It's U.S. power against Europe's savvy in Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune on

Published in Golf

HAVEN, Wis. — When U.S. captain Steve Stricker made his six wild-card picks for this week's Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, he chose power and youth for a linksy-looking course beside Lake Michigan that nonetheless must be attacked through the air.

Two of Padraig Harrington three captain's picks for Europe were players he just couldn't do without, 40-somethings Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.

"I certainly had my heart set on Ian and Sergio being the heart of the team, the soul of a Ryder Cup team," Harrington said. "They have shown it and proved it in the past."

That "it" is something Poulter calls "magic sauce."

At 26, Jon Rahm is the Europe's best player and ranked No. 1 in the world. At 32, Rory McIlroy is its emotional leader against a 12-man American side that has eight players in their 20s. Dustin Johnson, at 37, is the oldest U.S. player by five years.

Add previously qualified Lee Westwood and Paul Casey and Europe has four players in their 40s. Three own impressive Ryder Cup records and fiery unforgettable moments in a competition their team has dominated since Westwood's first in 1997.


They've done so not just because, as Johnson said, "they've played better," but because they — particularly Garcia and Poulter — have putted better.

Younger Europe teammate Viktor Hovland recently watched Ryder Cup highlights on YouTube featuring Westwood, Garcia and Poulter.

"It was just so cool to see all the clutch moments they've had and how they handled everything because it's big pressure," Hovland said.

Garcia is the Ryder Cup's career points leader with 25.5. He played his first at age 19 and now plays his 10th.


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