Ryder Cup capsules: Meet the European team

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The Europeans are the defending Ryder Cup champions, having defeated the U.S., 17 1/2 to 10 1/2, in 2018 in Paris, France. In fact. Europe has won four of the last five competitions and seven of the last nine.

As the 43rd edition gets ready for Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, here’s a closer look at the European team (click here for the U.S. team capsules):

Jon Rahm

Age: 26

Country: Spain

World ranking: 1

PGA Tour victories: 6

European Tour victories: 7

Major championship titles: 1 (2021 U.S. Open)

Ryder Cup record: 1-2-0 (2018)

The lowdown: The world No. 1 (the only top-10 player on Europe’s team this year) lost both of his fourball matches in Paris, teaming with Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, but he memorably beat Tiger Woods in singles, 2 and 1. Rahm has some extra motivation entering his second cup as he was unable to represent his country in the Olympics because of a positive COVID-19 test.

Tommy Fleetwood

Age: 30

Country: England

World ranking: 36

PGA Tour victories: 0

European Tour victories: 5

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: 4-1-0 (2018)

The lowdown: Who will ever forget Moliwood? Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari went 4-0 as a team in Paris, before Fleetwood lost his singles match, 6 and 4, to Tony Finau. With Molinari not on this year’s team, European captain Padraig Harrington will have to find another winning combo with Fleetwood.

Bernd Wiesberger

Age: 35

Country: Austria

World ranking: 61

PGA Tour victories: 0

European Tour victories: 8

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: Rookie

The lowdown: The European Tour veteran earned his spot on the team in the final event of qualification, the BMW PGA Championship. He claimed his most recent tour title in Demark in May and will be one of only three first-timers on Harrington’s team.

Tyrrell Hatton

Age: 29

Country: England

World ranking: 19

PGA Tour victories: 1

European Tour victories: 6

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: 1-2-0 (2018)

The lowdown: Hatton is one of six players on both sides to have made their debuts three years ago. He went 1-1 in fourballs and then lost his singles match to Patrick Reed, 3 and 2. The Englishman won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January.

Rory McIlroy

Age: 32

Country: Northern Ireland

World ranking: 15

PGA Tour victories: 19

European Tour victories: 14

Major championship titles: 4 (2014, 2012 PGA Championship; 2014 Open Championship; 2011 U.S. Open)

Ryder Cup record: 11-9-4 (2018, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010)

The lowdown: It’s been a strange year for McIlroy. He’s worked through a swing change, won at Quail Hollow and had only one top-10 in a major. His Ryder Cup record is pretty even across the board: foursomes, 5-4-1; fourballs: 4-3-2; singles: 2-2-1.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Age: 27

Country: England

World ranking: 27

PGA Tour victories: 0

European Tour victories: 6

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: 0-2-0 (2016)

The lowdown: It’s been five years since Fitzpatrick made his Ryder Cup debut, in which he lost his singles and a foursomes matches at Hazeltine. His victory at this year’s Scottish Open helped him book a return ticket to the Midwest for the 43rd edition.

Paul Casey

Age: 44

Country: England

World ranking: 23

PGA Tour victories: 3

European Tour victories: 15

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: 4-3-5 (2018, 2008, 2006, 2004)

The lowdown: After breaking a decade-long drought in the Ryder Cup, Casey is back for a second-consecutive occasion. He’s been part of three winning teams and was 1-1-1 the last time around. 

Viktor Hovland

Age: 23

Country: Norway

World ranking: 13

PGA Tour victories: 2

European Tour victories: 1

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: Rookie

The lowdown: This is the first of what should be a lengthy Ryder Cup career for the Norwegian. Hovland earned his first European Tour win in June at the BMW International Open in Germany. He has represented Europe in numerous amateur team competitions, but this will be his first professional team event – unless you count his T-25 alongside former OSU teammate Kris Ventura at this year’s Zurich Classic.

Lee Westwood

Age: 48

Country: England

World ranking: 34

PGA Tour victories: 2

European Tour victories: 25

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: 20-18-6 (2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002, 1999, 1997)

The lowdown: This will be Westwood’s 11th Ryder Cup appearance, tying him with Nick Faldo for the most in European history. He earned his spot thanks to some solid early-season play, but it’s been since Jan., 2020, since he won on the PGA or European tours. Westwood has excelled as a partner in this competition, going 17-11-6. However, he’s 3-7 in singles.

Sergio Garcia

Age: 41

Country: Spain

World ranking: 43

PGA Tour victories: 11

European Tour victories: 16

Major championship titles: 1 (2017 Masters)

Ryder Cup record: 22-12-7 (2018, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002, 1999)

The lowdown: This will be No. 10 for Europe’s all-time points earner (25.5). Garcia needed a pick from former major rival Harrington, but there was never a doubt as the captain made his intentions clear months ago. Is Garcia better in foursomes or fourballs? Tough to tell by the records: foursomes, 10-4-3; fourballs: 8-4-3. He’s bating .500 in singles, 4-4-1.

Shane Lowry

Age: 34

Country: Ireland

World ranking: 40

PGA Tour victories: 2

European Tour victories: 5

Major championship titles: 1 (2019 Open Championship)

Ryder Cup record: Rookie

The lowdown: As Captain Harrington said of his fellow Irishman, Lowry is a rookie in name only. Lowry is still seeking his first win since the ’19 Open at Royal Portrush, but he did enough in Harrington’s mind to warrant a pick over Ryder Cup veteran Justin Rose.

Ian Poulter

Age: 45

Country: England

World ranking: 49

PGA Tour victories: 3

European Tour victories: 12

Major championship titles: 0

Ryder Cup record: 14-6-2 (2018, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2004)

The lowdown: This will mark Poulter’s seventh Ryder Cup and his fifth as a captain’s pick. But when you’re The Postman, who always delivers, how can you be left off the European team? Few players in Ryder Cup history have been as synonymous with the competition as is Poulter. He went 2-2 in 2018 and upped his singles record to 5-0-1.