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The Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits: Who’s on the teams — and who isn’t. Who has the TV coverage. And what to know if you’re going to Wisconsin.

The 43rd Ryder Cup matches, delayed a year by the COVID-19 pandemic, will finally get underway this week at Whistling Straits just outside Sheboygan, Wis. — only 150 miles from downtown Chicago.

Here’s what you need to know as the United States looks to take back the cup after a European rout three years ago in France.

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The series

While the U.S. still holds a healthy 26-14-2 all-time lead after dominating the first 56 years of the biennial event, the tide turned after the Great Britain and Ireland team expanded to include continental Europe in 1979.

Starting with the 1985 matches, Europe has won or retained the cup in 12 of the last 17 meetings, including nine victories in the last 12 editions. That includes a memorable final-day collapse by the Americans in 2012 at Medinah Country Club. The U.S. hasn’t won it in Europe since 1993.

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Europe's Ian Poulter, left, and Sergio Garcia celebrate after winning the Ryder Cup on Sept. 30, 2018, at Le Golf National outside Paris.
Europe's Ian Poulter, left, and Sergio Garcia celebrate after winning the Ryder Cup on Sept. 30, 2018, at Le Golf National outside Paris. (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

Last year’s postponement was the second this century; the 2001 matches in England were pushed back a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Ryder Cup has been played in even-numbered years ever since, so this week’s matches mark a return to the original odd-numbered years.

The next meeting will take place in 2023 in Italy, the first time that country has hosted.

The course

Though it didn’t open until 1998, Whistling Straits is no stranger to big-time golf tournaments. The links-style course, designed by Pete Dye along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan, has hosted three PGA Championships (2004, 2010 and 2015) and the 2007 U.S. Senior Open.

Along with its scenic lake views and prodigious length — the course is listed at 7,390 yards for the Ryder Cup but can be set up at almost 7,800 — Whistling Straits’ most notable feature is more than 1,000 sand bunkers that dot the property.

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The ninth hole at Whistling Straits, host course of the 43rd Ryder Cup matches.
The ninth hole at Whistling Straits, host course of the 43rd Ryder Cup matches. (Destination Kohler)

They figured prominently in the 2010 PGA Championship when Dustin Johnson — mistakenly thinking the small sandy patch his ball was in was considered a waste area and not a bunker — grounded his club before hitting his second shot on the 72nd hole. He incurred a two-shot penalty that kept him out of a playoff, which Martin Kaymer won against Bubba Watson.

A playoff also decided the 2004 PGA, won by Vijay Singh over Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco, while Jason Day won a duel with Jordan Spieth in 2015 with a major-championship-record 20-under-par total.

Another oddity of Whistling Straits is the discrepancy about its location. The course officially lists its address as Kohler, Wis., home to the American Club resort with which it’s connected. But the course itself is closest to the unincorporated community of Haven, part of the town of Mosel. And The Associated Press stories on the 2015 PGA carried a Sheboygan dateline.

The format

The three-day competition begins Friday with four foursome (or alternate-shot) matches and four fourball (or better-ball) matches. That schedule is repeated Saturday, and the home team’s captain gets to choose which format is played in the morning session and which in the afternoon.

Then all 24 players compete in the fifth session Sunday — 12 singles matches.

Each match is worth one point, and matches that are all square after 18 holes are halved, with each team receiving a half-point rather than going to sudden death. As the current owner of the cup, Europe needs to win 14 of the 28 available points to retain it, while the U.S. must win 14½ points to take it back.

The captains

They couldn’t be more appropriate for the location. Wisconsin native Steve Stricker will captain the U.S. in the first Ryder Cup played in his home state, while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will lead the European team at Whistling Straits — the realization of course owner Herb Kohler’s dream to re-create an Irish-style links in the American Midwest.

Stricker, a former University of Illinois All-American, is the first U.S. Ryder Cup captain who never has won a major championship. Harrington won three in a two-year span: the 2007-08 British Opens and the 2008 PGA Championship.

U.S. captain Steve Stricker and Europe captain Padraig Harrington answer questions at a news conference for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on Sept. 20, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis.
U.S. captain Steve Stricker and Europe captain Padraig Harrington answer questions at a news conference for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on Sept. 20, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis. (Morry Gash / AP)

The trend in recent years is to have more and more assistant captains, and this year’s staffs would make for an entertaining competition if they were playing instead of holding walkie-talkies.

The U.S. will have Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson assisting Stricker. Harrington’s European staff counters with Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson. That group has 15 majors among them, and Furyk and Love are former Ryder Cup captains.

The teams

United States

  • Daniel Berger (1st Ryder Cup; world ranking: 16)
  • Patrick Cantlay (1st RC; WR: 4)
  • Bryson DeChambeau (2nd RC; WR: 7)
  • Harris English (1st RC; WR: 11)
  • Tony Finau (2nd RC; WR: 9)
  • Dustin Johnson (5th RC; WR: 2)
  • Brooks Koepka (3rd RC; WR: 10)
  • Collin Morikawa (1st RC; WR: 3)
  • Xander Schauffele (1st RC; WR: 5)
  • Scottie Scheffler (1st RC; WR: 21)
  • Jordan Spieth (4th RC; WR: 13)
  • Justin Thomas (2nd RC; WR: 6)

On paper this looks like one of the strongest U.S. teams ever, with an incredible 10 of the top 13 players in the world rankings and no one ranked lower than 21st. Experience is the biggest question mark, though, with six Ryder Cup rookies.

Morikawa, Johnson, DeChambeau, Koepka, Thomas and Cantlay qualified off the points list; all but Cantlay are major champions, with a combined 10 majors among them. That left Stricker a record six captain’s picks, and he didn’t have to think hard about the first three. Finau, Olympic champion Schauffele and three-time major champion Spieth were Nos. 7-9 on the points list.

Stricker went with first-time Ryder Cuppers with his other three picks, selecting English (10th in points), Berger (12th) and Scheffler (14th) and bypassing more experienced options such as Patrick Reed (11th), Webb Simpson (13th) and reigning PGA champion Phil Mickelson (20th), who won’t be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the first time since 1993.

The other big unknown that always looms over the U.S. team is chemistry, and that’s particularly in the spotlight thanks to the long-running and much-publicized feud between Koepka and DeChambeau. Koepka also enters the week with health concerns — he withdrew from the Tour Championship earlier this month after injuring his left wrist when he hit a tree root — and questions about his passion for the Ryder Cup after former U.S. captain Paul Azinger called him out over his comments in a Golf Digest interview.

Europe

  • Paul Casey, England (5th Ryder Cup; world ranking: 24)
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick, England (2nd RC; WR: 27)
  • Tommy Fleetwood, England (2nd RC; WR: 37)
  • Sergio Garcia, Spain (10th RC; WR: 43)
  • Tyrrell Hatton, England (2nd RC; WR: 19)
  • Viktor Hovland, Norway (1st RC; WR: 14)
  • Shane Lowry, Ireland (1st RC; WR: 42)
  • Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland (6th RC; WR: 15)
  • Ian Poulter, England (7th RC; WR: 50)
  • Jon Rahm, Spain (2nd RC; WR: 1)
  • Bernd Wiesberger, Austria (1st RC; WR: 63)
  • Lee Westwood, England (11th RC; WR: 35)

The European team uses two points lists for qualification to account for those who play primarily in the U.S. on the PGA Tour. The top four in the European tour’s Race to Dubai points — Rahm, Fleetwood, Hatton and Wiesberger — got in first, followed by the top five (not already in) from a world points list: McIlroy, Hovland, Casey, Fitzpatrick and Westwood.

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Harrington had three captain’s picks, and they were fairly easy choices. Garcia and Poulter have been, along with Westwood, the core of the European dominance the last two decades. And Lowry, though a Ryder Cup rookie, won the 2019 British Open and would have been the next player in from the world points list.

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The most notable omission was five-time Ryder Cupper and former U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, whose world ranking (No. 44) is higher than Poulter’s. Also not on the European squad is former British Open champion Francesco Molinari, the star of the 2018 matches after forming the “Moliwood” pairing with Fleetwood and becoming the first player ever to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup.

How to watch

NBC and Golf Channel have the TV coverage, starting with Thursday’s opening ceremony at 4 p.m. on Golf Channel.

Golf Channel also has the full broadcast of Friday’s matches from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., as well as the first hour of Saturday’s morning session from 7-8 a.m.

NBC then takes over for the rest of Saturday’s broadcast from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and for Sunday’s singles matches from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

All of the competition broadcasts are also available via the Peacock streaming service, while coverage of featured matches will be available on RyderCup.com and the Ryder Cup app.

The broadcast team consists of hosts Dan Hicks, Mike Tirico and Terry Gannon; analysts Paul Azinger, Justin Leonard, Nick Faldo, Roger Maltbie, David Feherty, Gary Koch, Tom Abbott and Curt Byrum; and on-course reporters Roger Maltbie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, John Wood, Notah Begay and Kay Cockerill, plus essays by Jimmy Roberts and interviews by Roberts and Steve Sands.

If you’re going

General-admission tickets sold out in less than an hour after they went on sale in April 2019, though Golfweek reported last week that secondary-market prices are the lowest they have been.

For those making the trip north from Chicago, gates open at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 6 a.m. Friday-Saturday and 7:30 a.m. Sunday. There are two free public parking lots with shuttle service to the course.

RyderCup.com has a full schedule of events, COVID-19 policies and other conduct policies, what you can and can’t bring to the course, a course map and more spectator information.

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