The US and Europeans each look to bring home the Ryder Cup

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Austin Eigen, Contributing Writer

The golfing rivalry between the United States and the European Union continues with the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin, on the coast of Lake Michigan.  This year’s United States roster is as interesting as ever.  Brooks Koepka and Bryson Dechambeau, two of the United States’ top golfers, have been feuding with one another for a while, and have to play side-by-side.  

Koepka and Dechambeau have been involved in an ongoing dispute that has taken over the golf community.  The tension began when Brooks Koepka made a comment about Dechambeau’s slow play.

I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” said Brooks Koepka at the Dubai Desert Classic 2019.

Dechambeau did not take much offense to the comment and continued to play at the same pace.  Other golfers began to comment on Dechambeau’s slow pace while Koepka kept quiet.  Later on, Bryson Dechambeau felt singled out by Koepka and went on to have a conversation with Koepka’s caddy, telling him that if Koepka had anything to say, he should say it to his face.  Koepka found it odd that Dechambeau did not come directly to him.  

“It’s not just him.  I know he feels singled out, especially when I’m speaking about it…But it’s like I told him, I’ve mentioned his name once, and that’s it.  There’s so many guys out here where it’s become an issue, and obviously him being probably the best player that’s relatively slow right now, he’s going to be on TV a lot more, so you’re going to catch a lot more of those types of instances,” said Koepka.

Ever since that point, it seems that most golfers agreed that they should keep their comments to themselves and they should move on from the incident.  However, Bryson Dechambeau continued the feud after he made a comment about Koepka’s physique while livestreaming on Twitch.  

“I don’t know if his genetics even make him look good, to be honest…that body issue, he didn’t have any abs, I can tell you that.  I got some abs,” said Dechambeau.

Following this, Koepka mocked one of Dechambeau’s requests for relief after he claimed he hit his ball near a fire ant nest and also claimed that Dechambeau was using steroids.  More hostile tweets and hectic fan interactions ensued at a pro-am match with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.  At the memorial tournament and the tournaments following, fans began to yell “Brooksy” at Bryson Dechambeau.  Recently, the PGA banned screaming “Brooksy” at all events, as they said it was harassment.  

With all this drama and the Ryder Cup quickly approaching, US team captain Steve Stricker needs to make sure it does not get in the way of their play. 

“I’m on Brooks’ side.  It all started when Dechambeau went back on his word from a conversation they had two years ago,” said junior Chase Pastolove.

Aside from Koepka and Dechambeau, Stricker selected golfers that are ranked in  the top 21 in the world, including current leader Dustin Johnson and the third-ranked Justin Thomas.  Dustin Johnson has won two major tournaments, including the 2020 Masters at Augusta National and the 2016 US Open.  Another one hoping to contribute to the US team is Jordan Spieth, who has three major titles under his belt, as well as  2021 British Open champion Collin Morikawa.

Leading the European team is Captain Pádraig Harrington, who was in charge of choosing the remaining members.  First, he selected  former world champion  Jon Rahm to help push his team to victory.  Rahm most recently won the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines, becoming the first Spanish player to win a US Open title.  Other notable players include Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy.  Sergio’s last major title was the 2017 Masters, where he beat Justin Rose in a playoff hole.  Rory brings some impressive stats to the table as well, with two PGA Championships, one US Open Championship, and one British Open Championship. 

“I think Jon Rahm is going to win.  In many recent tournaments, he has come in the top ten.  He has been playing very efficiently lately hitting the ball straight and far.  He hits putts under pressure and can turn on the heat at any time.  He has led the PGA the past two years in strokes gained and is the most well-rounded golfer out of the competition,” said junior Tyler Duran.

Sitting right on Lake Michigan, Whistling Straits is a 7,390 yard, par 71 course.  It was ranked the third best course in America by Golf Digest and was ranked the 29th best course overall.  Wind plays a major effect on the flight of the ball at Whistling Straits.  Players will have to adjust their club loft and aim to conform with the speed in the direction of the wind.  Most holes have fairways lined by a small amount of rough, which continues into the fescue.  Hitting tee shots into the fairway will play a major role in success at this course. Whoever can do that best will set themself up for success in this year’s Ryder Cup.