2021 Ryder Cup Preview

The Ryder Cup takes center stage this weekend with Team USA eager to wrestle the prestigious trophy back from Team Europe.

The USA has a dismal recent record in this event, winning just three of the last 12 battles between the two sides. They were comfortably defeated in the 2018 Ryder Cup, with Europe running out comfortable 17½-10½ winner at Le Golf National. However, with home advantage and a strong-looking roster at their disposal, the USA are fancied by the bookmakers to emerge victorious this time around.

Steve Stricker is the man tasked with leading the USA this week, and he will be keen to prove a point after struggling in the competition as a player.

As highlighted by recent research by Betway, the former world number two had a truly woeful record in the Ryder Cup. In his three appearances as a player, Stricker was part of a winning team at Valhalla in 2008, but was on the losing side at Celtic Manor (2010) and Medinah (2012).

While his individual playing record of 3-7-1 is the worst of any U.S. captain since Ben Crenshaw in 1999, he can take plenty of heart from events of that year. Crenshaw guided the USA to a famous 14½-13½ win at the "Battle of Brookline" and Stricker will hope to emulate the feat this weekend. Despite failing to live up to expectations as a player in the Ryder Cup, the 54-year-old insists that his previous experiences will help him as captain.

"You want to be part of these competitions and you want to be the guy leading this team and being in charge, and you wouldn't want to have it any other way," he said (via RyderCup.com). I've seen a lot of different things. I've seen some things that worked. I've seen some things that haven't worked. I've put all those in my memory bank over the years and hopefully lean on those things that I've learned and apply them to this week."

Another factor that could give Stricker and his team the edge this week is European captain Padraig Harrington's playing record in the event. The Irishman was on the winning side on four of the six appearances he made, despite posting an underwhelming 9-13-3 personal record.

Many of Europe's recent Ryder Cup successes have come with players who have scored at least 20 Ryder Cup points, including Steve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Playing on home soil still has an advantage in sports today and thus it should also favor the USA, with their 17-11 victory at Hazeltine in 2016 highlighting that point to perfection.

With partisan crowds roaring them on the USA are worthy favorites, but Harrington believes his players will handle the pressure.

"From our perspective, our players play for the glory of this event," he said. If there were 40,000 U.S. fans and no Europeans, we'd prefer that than having no fans. That's just the reality. We want the noise. We want the excitement. We want the buzz of it all."

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