Motivation burns naturally for the U.S. Ryder Cup team

HAVEN, Wisconsin – Steve Stricker, the United States’ Ryder Cup captain, hasn’t given a single rousing speech to his accusations this we...


HAVEN, Wisconsin – Steve Stricker, the United States’ Ryder Cup captain, hasn’t given a single rousing speech to his accusations this week. He also refrained from showing them motivational videos, which many of his predecessors loved to do.

When Stricker was a Ryder Cup contender, as opposed to a non-playing captain, he always thought these tactics just made him nervous.

In the 43rd Ryder Cup, which kicks off Friday morning, Stricker will draw on a more basic inspiration for his team: He’s had America’s youngest team in decades, and he knows those players have spent most of their lives. to hear about the continued domination of Europe in the event. .

Americans, eight of whom are under 30, are growing weary of this story, and they don’t need a speech or the blaring music of “Rocky” to wake them up. As Tony Finau, a 32-year-old senior on the US team, said Thursday: “There is an added motivation or drive to change the culture of American golf.”

Finau added: “I hope the culture of not doing the job in the Ryder Cup changes this week.”

Europeans, who have won four of the last five Ryder Cups, are naturally at ease, even a little perplexed in the face of the anxiety and the machinations of the Americans. There have been, for example, many plot about makeup pairs chosen by Stricker for the first two days, where there will be 16 team matches. American strategic suits were debated and tested in practice this week at Whistling Straits, the intimidating golf course along Lake Michigan that hosts the event.

Instead, the European players played the loose game, training in indistinct groups that seemed to lack forethought. On Thursday, the Englishman Paul Casey explained: “We’re so good, so comfortable with what we’re going to do tomorrow, it’s like, why think about it too much on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday?”

But late on Thursday afternoon at the event’s opening ceremony, as Stricker and European captain Padraig Harrington named the pairs for Friday morning’s four foursome matches, some details finally emerged in the last chapter of a biennial competition. dating from 1927 and was delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Few surprises in the duets for the Europeans, who often have compatriots competing together. For the opening match of the event, Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia team up, as do England’s Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who often responds well to an emotional and energetic partner, has been paired with Englishman Ian Poulter, one of the most passionate and successful Ryder Cup players of this century. Harrington also opted to combine Ryder Cup veteran Casey with novice player Viktor Hovland, the first Norwegian to participate in the event.

On the US side, Stricker appeared to lean towards the methods successfully employed by US captain Paul Azinger in the 2008 Ryder Cup.

In what he called a “pod system,” Azinger split his 12-man squad into four-man units that would spend the lead-up to the event doing everything together, from meals to practice rounds before the event. be eventually paired up in the competition. The hope was to develop a bond between certain groups of actors that would be similar to the type of unity that Europeans seemed to manifest naturally.

The four-man groups led to a sweeping victory in 2008, the first for Americans in nine years. Since then, Azinger’s approach has largely been abandoned. But based on the first four pairs chosen Thursday and the training groups Stricker has sent over the past three days, some four-man groups appear to be forming within the USA squad.

The first duo announced by Stricker were Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who will play against Rahm and Garcia on Friday morning. The Thomas-Spieth combination was one of the few bright spots in the Americans’ lost effort at the Ryder Cup in 2018, when the two teamed up four times in the first two days and won three times. Thomas and Spieth have known each other since childhood, when they competed in top junior golf tournaments, and they have become close friends as professionals.

While nothing will be clear until four more matches are played on Friday afternoon and eight more on Saturday (Friday afternoon pairs will be announced after the morning matches are concluded), the duo will likely be in a unit. of four with Thomas and Spieth would be Patrick Cantlay and Xander Scheatele, who will be paired in the fourth game on Friday morning against the McIlroy-Poulter team.

Cantlay and ScHotele are Ryder Cup rookies, but ScHotele won an Olympic gold this summer and finished nine times in the top 10 in major championships. Cantlay was recently named PGA Tour Player of the Year after win the FedEx Cup qualifiers. In the President’s Cup 2019 – a team competition between the United States and a collection of international golfers outside of Europe – Cantlay and ScHotele played together and won two of the four team sessions.

The other US teams playing on Friday morning will be Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, who will face Casey and Hovland, and Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, who will face Westwood and Fitzpatrick.

Because they trained together periodically this week, Johnson, 37, and Morikawa, 24 – the oldest and youngest members of the U.S. team, respectively – were considered half of a group, maybe with Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English. Koepka and Berger would then team up in a pod with Finau and Scottie Scheffler.

The Friday morning foursome format requires players on a team to alternately hit the same golf ball on each hole. The Friday afternoon format is four-ball, in which each golfer plays their own ball on each hole and a team wins a hole by having one player (or players) with the lowest score among the four golfers in the group. . Most of the holes are usually knotted.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Motivation burns naturally for the U.S. Ryder Cup team
Motivation burns naturally for the U.S. Ryder Cup team
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