2021 Ryder Cup: a Tale of Two Captains

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The eyes of the golfing world will be on Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, this weekend as the United States and Europe go head-to-head in the Ryder Cup.

The USA are aiming to wrestle the trophy back from their rivals following their dismal 17½-10½ defeat at Le Golf National in 2019. Europe have dominated this prestigious event in recent years, winning nine of the last 12 meetings between the two sides.

However, the USA’s three victories during that run have come on home soil, giving them hope that they can justify their position as favourites with the bookmakers this time around.

There will be plenty of pressure on the shoulders of the two captains, both of whom have featured extensively as players in past Ryder Cups.

Recent research from Betway has highlighted that USA captain may feel the burden of expectation slightly more than his European counterpart Padraig Harrington.

Stricker’s individual record in the competition was dismal, although he played on a winning USA team at Valhalla in 2008. He was subsequently part of beaten teams at Celtic Manor (2010) and Medinah (2012), finishing up with a 3-7-1 record from those three appearances.

Having failed to impress as a player in the Ryder Cup, the USA captain is keen to make amends but admits that he is unlikely to be praised if his team wins.

“You’re going to get blamed if you lose, right, and all the credit goes to the players if they win, which is fine,” he said.

“We understand that I think coming into this. But you wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“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.”

While Harrington undoubtedly fared better than Stricker as a player in the Ryder Cup with four victories from six appearances, his personal record was unspectacular.

He bagged a 9-13-3 record from his 25 matches, which is a surprisingly low win percentage given his golfing talent.

Thankfully for Harrington he can take solace in Europe’s Ryder Cup success in 2018, with Thomas Bjorn captaining the side to victory despite struggling in the event as a player.

Bjorn won just three of the nine matches he played in the competition, but proved to be an inspirational leader as Europe swept the USA aside. Harrington is eager to follow in Bjorn’s footsteps and believes that a single decision made by either of the captains could be the difference between winning and losing this weekend.

“It’s one of those things for us that sometimes, many times, the captain will not be the actual difference but it’s possible that we could be the very difference,” he said.

“We could make that difference at the end of the week. We have to prepare like we are the ones that are going to make a little bit of a difference that just get our team across the line.”

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