So well does Ian Poulter know one of the reasons for his European side’s amusement over their recent dominance in the Ryder Cup, and the corresponding disappointment from the Americans, that he repeated it not once, nor twice.
“On paper, on paper, on paper,” Poulter said last week on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, “the U.S. team should have delivered. It’s for us to enjoy and for the American team to figure out, right?”
Which brings us to this week’s Ryder Cup, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where at least one fact is clear. Again.
On paper, the U.S. team should deliver.
According to the world rankings, the Americans have an average mark of 8.9, while the Europeans’ is over three times higher, at 30.8 — and that’s with Jon Rahm, the world No. 1. The highest-ranked American, Scottie Scheffler at No. 21, is higher-ranked than the European average, while just Rahm is lower than the American average.
Of course, as Poulter and we know, this is not dissimilar to previous Ryder Cups. And we and Poulter know how those turned out.
Below are the rosters for the U.S. and European teams.
A look at the U.S. Ryder Cup roster
Collin Morikawa: Morikawa, ranked third in the world, turned professional two years ago — and has five victories, including two major championships. At the Olympics over the summer, he said he hurt his back, but said at the Tour Championship at the start of the month that he was “way better.” This will be his first Ryder Cup.
Dustin Johnson: Johnson, ranked second in the world, is both the oldest and most experienced Ryder Cupper for the U.S., playing in four Ryder Cups and going 7-9-0. Last November, he won the Masters for his second major.
Bryson DeChambeau: DeChambeau, ranked seventh in the world, leads both sides in driving distance and headlines. Just over a year ago, he won the U.S. Open for his first major. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, going 0-3-0.
Brooks Koepka: And whom, for the most part, has DeChambeau made headlines with? His teammate, ranked 10th in the world. The four-time major winner who broke an 18-month winless streak in February with a victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Koepka enters the Ryder Cup with a left wrist injury suffered at the Tour Championship. Koepka’s played in two Ryder Cups, going 4-3-1.
Justin Thomas: Thomas, ranked sixth in the world, has won 14 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including the Players Championship in March, and is still just 28. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, going 4-1-0.
Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay, ranked fourth in the world, enters as the hottest player in the event. He won the BMW Championship in an epic six-hole playoff with DeChambeau, then won the Tour Championship the next week. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Tony Finau: Finau, ranked ninth in the world, won for the first time in five years with his victory at the Northern Trust in August. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, going 2-1-0.
Xander Schauffele: Schauffele, ranked fifth in the world, won gold at the Olympics over the summer. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Jordan Spieth: Spieth, ranked 13th in the world, is the second-most experienced Ryder Cupper, playing in three and going 7-5-2. In April, Spieth won the Texas Open for his first victory in nearly four years.
Harris English: English, ranked 11th in the world, won the Tournament of Champions at the start of the year, and the Travelers Championship after an eight-hole playoff. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Daniel Berger: Berger, ranked 16th in the world, won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February for his fourth Tour victory. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Scottie Scheffler: Scheffler, ranked 21st in the world, has yet to win on Tour, but notably finished second at the WGC-Match Play event in March. This is his first Ryder Cup.
A look at the European Ryder Cup roster
Jon Rahm: Rahm, ranked No. 1 in the world, won the U.S. Open in June for his first major championship, and finished in the top 10 in the year’s other three majors. However, he enters the Ryder Cup after both battling a stomach illness and missing the cut at last week’s Fortinet Championship. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, going 1-2-0.
Tommy Fleetwood: Fleetwood, ranked 37th in the world, has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but has won six times internationally. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, memorably going 4-0 while being paired with Franceso Molinari in 2018 before losing in singles.
Bernd Wiesberger: Wiesberger, ranked 63rd in the world, automatically qualified for the team during the last tournament to do so, the BMW PGA Championship. He’s yet to win on Tour, but has won 10 times internationally. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Tyrrell Hatton: Hatton, ranked 19th in the world, has won once on Tour (the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational) and six times internationally, including last year’s BMW PGA. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, going 1-2-0.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroy, ranked 15th in the world, has won 19 times on Tour and eight times internationally, though his victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in May was his first since October of 2019. He’s played in five Ryder Cups, going 11-9-4.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: Fitzpatrick, ranked 27th in the world, has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but has won six times internationally. He’s played in one Ryder Cup, going 0-2-0.
Paul Casey: Casey, ranked 24th in the world, has won three times on Tour and 16 times internationally, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the start of the year. He’s played in four Ryder Cups, going 4-3-5.
Viktor Hovland: Hovland, ranked 14th in the world, has won twice on Tour (the Puerto Rico Open in February of last year, and the Mayakoba Golf Classic in December of 2020) since turning professional just over two years ago. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Lee Westwood: Westwood, ranked 35th in the world, is his team’s oldest (48) and most experienced Ryder Cupper. He’s enjoyed a career renaissance of late, winning the European Tour’s Race to Dubai last year and finishing second in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour this year (the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship). He’s played in 10 Ryder Cups, going 20-18-6.
Sergio Garcia: Garcia, ranked 43rd in the world, is Europe’s all-time points scorer in Ryder Cup play, with 25.5. He’s won 11 times on Tour, including at the Sanderson Farms Championship last October, and 20 times internationally. He’s played in nine Ryder Cups, going 22-12-7.
Shane Lowry: Lowry, ranked 42nd in the world, has won twice on Tour, including the 2019 Open Championship, and three times internationally. This is his first Ryder Cup.
Ian Poulter: Poulter, ranked 50th in the world, has not won since the 2018 Houston Open, but the Postman is one of the most famous Ryder Cup players in history. He’s played in six, going 14-6-2, which includes a 5-0-1 mark in singles.