Ryder Cup captain’s picks: The case for Scottie Scheffler
The 43rd Ryder Cup is just around the corner, on Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. We know who the automatic qualifiers are for the U.S and who they likely will be for Europe, so now the fun begins as we wait to see which players land a spot via captain’s picks, which will be announced in the coming weeks. Yes, Jordan Spieth wasn’t an auto-qualifier, but let’s get real, Spieth will be on the U.S. team. But what about the other guys, the players who might not be slam-dunk picks? In the days leading up to the captain’s picks, our staffers make their case for some of those players.
Although Scheffler has yet to win on the PGA Tour, his resume is far from empty. The 25-year-old won rookie of the year in 2020, fired a 59 last summer, and finished fourth in the FedEx Cup in his debut. Not too shabby.
But those accomplishments only just scratch the surface on what makes Scheffler worthy of a spot on the Ryder Cup team. Below, I’ve outline five reasons Stricker should include Scheffler among his captain’s picks.
1. Big-time player
There are few stages where the lights shine as bright as the Ryder Cup, and Stricker should pick players he knows can handle the spotlight. Scheffler fits that profile.
Since securing his Tour card in 2019, Scheffler has played in six major championships. In those six starts, he’s had four top-10 finishes and no finish worse than T19. While some players shrink when the stage gets larger, Scheffler seems to elevate his game.
In his first career start at the PGA Championship last summer, he played his way into contention at Harding Park and played with Dustin Johnson in the final pairing. And while he didn’t secure the Wannamaker Trophy on Sunday, he didn’t collapse and tumble down the leaderboard. A final-round 70 at a major is nothing to scoff at. I’d expect his play in his first Ryder Cup to be equally fearless.
2. Match-play prowess
Match play is a different beast from the typical stroke-play format we see each week on Tour, and Scheffler has proven himself to be a match-play ace. He made a run to the championship match earlier this season at the WGC-Dell Match Play, and his match-play record as an amateur and junior was impressive as well.
Scheffler won the Legends Junior Match Play Championship in 2011 and the U.S. Junior in 2013, and he was a member of winning squads at the 2012 Junior Ryder Cup, 2013 Spirit International and 2017 Walker Cup.
3. Current form
Current form is always important when making Ryder Cup selections, and there are few players in better form than Scheffler. In seven starts over the past three months, Scheffler has three top 10s, five top 25s and has missed just one cut.
The advanced analytics favor his recent play as well. According to Data Golf, only four players — Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth — have higher True SG over the past three months. Three of those players, and likely four, will be on the Ryder Cup team.
Consistency is key in golf, and at the Ryder Cup, that still rings true. You want someone consistent and reliable when you pencil in your lineup each day. Scheffler fits that bill.
In 28 starts this season, Scheffler has missed only five cuts. He may not bring his A-game every week, but he doesn’t lay many eggs, either. He was similarly consistent last year as he missed just five cuts. For those keeping score at home, that’s just 10 missed cuts in 56 starts over the past two years. Consistency.
5. Birdies in bunches
Match play requires players to make birdies, and Scheffler makes a lot of them. He ranks sixth on Tour in birdie average and he ranked seventh in the category in 2020. That’s not to mention Scheffler’s 59 at TPC Boston where he made 12 birdies.
If you want someone with the ability to light the course on fire, Scheffler is your man.