sports gazette

Ryder Cup 2016: Team USA Preview

Published: 29 Sep 2016

Team USA have everything to play for and (quite literally) nothing to lose. Can they stop the rot against Team Europe this year with a mix of leadership, professionalism and fire?

One man will be a source of inspiration for Team USA this year: Arnold Palmer.

The year is 1963 and Palmer has just led Team USA to a 23-9 victory over Great Britain & Ireland. It was Team USA’s third consecutive Ryder Cup win and put them on their way to two more consecutive titles.

Between 1961 and 1975, Palmer competed in seven Ryder Cups and was a winner in every one of them.

It was a tragedy for the game to see revolutionary power-house Palmer pass away at the age of 87 over the weekend, and it has given Team USA plenty of added motivation.

Considering Team USA have eight of the current top 20 players in the world on their team, they must use the example Palmer set to earn revenge on Team Europe.

It looks like now is the time, but will Team USA carry the spirit of Palmer all the way to Ryder Cup victory?

Captain - Davis Love III

They say that bad things come in threes and this could be the case for Team Europe with Davis Love III at the helm again.

Love has become the eighth man in Ryder Cup history to serve more than one stint as Team USA captain. With three wins out of eight in a playing career between 1993 and 2004, Americans everywhere were singing “all you need is Love!”.

There was nothing Love could do when he lost the Ryder Cup in his last captaincy in what was famously dubbed 'The Miracle at Medinah'. Poulter’s work set the wheels in motion, which set the cogs in Love’s mind ticking to vengeance.

Love told the BBC this is “the best team, maybe, ever assembled”. It’s very hard to disagree with the man who has 21 career wins and is surrounded by experience in his vice-captains.

Team USA captain Love III will be hoping twice is enough for victory in Minnesota.

Every stroke Johnson takes will be watched and judged by all, especially those American fans eager to retain the Ryder Cup after such a long wait.

One to Watch - Dustin Johnson

Was it ever going to be anyone else?

Every stroke Johnson takes will be watched and judged by all, especially those American fans eager to win back the Ryder Cup after such a long wait.

Johnson certainly has the credentials. By winning the US Open in Oakmont in June, Johnson set himself up as the latest icon in American golf. Combine this with a close-fought second place in the FedEx cup and you have a formidable player.

There has been Ryder Cup pain for Johnson though as he played in 2010 and 2012. He has a 4-3-0 record going into this tournament.

Within this, Johnson has a stunning 2-0-0 in the singles matches. Traditionally played on the last day, this is a sign of a man who performs well under pressure.

This is what Team USA needs and Johnson is in stellar form to take his big moment.

The Wildcard - Matt Kuchar

We have leadership in Love and professionalism in Johnson, but where is the fire in Team USA? Enter Matt Kuchar.

As the second oldest playing member of Team USA at 38 years old, Kuchar has known enough hurt in the Ryder Cup. The loss to Westwood in 2012 drew Europe level for the first time in Medinah and sent them on their way to victory.

Now it’s time to say enough is enough. Kuchar has 76 top-10 finishes in the PGA tour between 2007 and 2016, but he also has something none of his team-mates do: an Olympic bronze medal from Rio.

Riding the crest of this wave of momentum, Kuchar must make the most of the Ryder Cup to establish himself as a great of the game. Years of Ryder Cup hurt can spark the fire which Kuchar must bring to Minnesota.

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