Sept. 21-26, 2021 Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI
43rd Ryder Cup
Photo Credit: PGA

KOHLER, Wis. – With the opening matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup just hours away, we now know who will strike the first tee shots at Whistling Straits. Here’s a look at how the pairings stack up in Match 3, where the Europeans will send out Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick to square off with the American duo of Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

How the U.S. will win: This all-Florida State pairing is big on chill and likely won’t blink in the face of first-tee jitters. If Koepka is healthy, as his inclusion here would indicate, then this course should suit him quite well. Berger performed admirably in the 2017 Presidents Cup in his team debut, and he will look to feed off the home crowd if things get going in a positive direction. His ball-striking makes him a strong Foursomes option, and American fans can expect him to find plenty of fairways and greens on Friday.

How Europe will win: This one might be the biggest head-scratcher of Harrington’s four combinations, but he clearly has faith in Europe’s elder statesman. Playing in his 11th Ryder Cup, Westwood knows exactly what the opening-match environment will be like and how to prepare for it. That experience will be needed with Fitzpatrick by his side, as the younger Englishman largely struggled in his Ryder Cup debut in 2016 at Hazeltine. Fitzpatrick has plenty of short game magic, and if Westwood puts him in position to flash it on several holes they could sneak out with a result.

Key to the match: Which version of Westwood will we see? At age 48 he has run the Ryder Cup gamut, producing clutch victories while also letting points slip off his putter blade at the 11th hour. The oldest man in this year’s Ryder Cup has been somewhat short on form in recent months, but that’s hardly a disqualifier. If he’s able to conjure some magic, as he so often has in this setting before, it could be enough to lift Fitzpatrick who didn’t seem quite comfortable five years ago in Minnesota. But if Westwood struggles out of the gate, this could turn into an easy point for the Americans.

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