Sept. 21-26, 2021 Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI

After a year’s delay and an extended countdown, we are finally just 100 days away from the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. This will be the 43rd edition of the matches, which will take place Sept. 26-28 in Kohler, Wisconsin.

As we get ready for the resumption of this – normally – biennial competition, here are six storylines that are worth keeping an eye on as we get closer to the opening ceremony.

Lots of huge – even major – opportunities remain on the schedule:

While there are 100 days until the Ryder Cup, the teams will be selected before that. U.S. qualifying ends Aug. 29, after the final round of the BMW Championship, with the top six players in points earning automatic spots. Europe’s qualifying ends Sept. 12 with nine players – four from the European Points List and five from the World Points List – punching their tickets.

For the Americans, there are still many huge opportunities to rack up points and earn their way onto U.S. captain Steve Stricker’s squad. Here are some of the biggest opportunities to do so, including two more major championships:

  • U.S. Open, June 17-20 at Torrey Pines South
  • The Open Championship, July 15-18 at Royal St. George’s
  • Men’s Olympics (no points on offer), July 29-Aug. 1 at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan
  • FedExCup playoffs: The Northern Trust, Aug. 19-22 at Liberty National
  • FedExCup playoffs: BMW Championship, Aug. 26-29 at Caves Valley
  • FedExCup playoffs: Tour Championship, Sept. 2-5 at East Lake

For the players who don’t automatically qualify, six captain’s picks will be made for the U.S. side on Sept. 8 after the Tour Championship. European Captain Pádraig Harrington is scheduled to announce his three Captain’s Picks on Sept. 13.

So, there is still lots of time and motivation to perform for all players hopeful of a Ryder Cup spot.

Can Harrington win an away cup?

The European team has dominated the last quarter-century of this competition, going 9-3 in the last 12 contests. Those three loses, however, have come on foreign soil (1999, 2008 and 2016). But it’s not as if Team Europe hasn’t had some success in the States. Europe won by nine points in 2004 and orchestrated the Miracle at Medinah in 2012. Harrington will look to follow in the footsteps of Bernhard Langer (2004) and José María Olazábal (’12), who both won on U.S. soil this Century.

In addition to Langer and Olazabal, Bernard Gallacher (1995) and Tony Jacklin (1987) are the only European captains to win in America.

Can Phil Mickelson make it lucky No. 13?

He’s currently nowhere near the top 6 on the points list, but after his historic PGA Championship win, he’s at least in the conversation for a captain’s pick. Mickelson has competed in a record 12 Ryder Cups, making every team from 1995-2018. But even Mickelson is first to tell you that one good week does not warrant a wild-card selection. He’ll need to perform in those big events above – or maybe pick off a second win of the season – in order to extend his streak to lucky No. 13.

Should he qualify, Mickelson will have played a Ryder Cup in four different decades, and would break Raymond Floyd’s record as oldest competitor. Floyd was 51 years and 20 days old when he played in the 1993 matches – Mickelson would be 51 years, three months and 10 days old at time of tee off at Whistling Straits.

Will Lee Westwood tie Nick Faldo for appearances?

Faldo is a Ryder Cup legend, having won 25 points and played on 11 teams. Sergio Garcia, in 2018, passed Faldo for most European points earned and Westwood could catch his countryman in number of appearances. If Westwood makes – or is chosen – for this year’s team, it will mark his 11th Ryder Cup start and his first since 2016. Even more impressively for Westwood, he’s played on seven victorious teams. While the 48-year-old hasn’t won this year, he did capture the European Tour’s Race to Dubai last year and got off to a stellar start on the PGA Tour this year.

A fresh, new look for the U.S. team

Among those in the mix for an automatic berth or captain’s selection are a bevy of potential first-time participants. They include Collin Morikawa (24 years old), Xander Schauffele (27), Patrick Cantlay (29), Daniel Berger (28), Scottie Scheffler (24), Sam Burns (24) and Will Zalatoris (24) – not to mention a few thirty-somethings in Max Homa, Billy Horschel and Jason Kokrak. The average age of the current top 12 in U.S. points? 29.4 years old.

This could be the beginning of a new era in U.S. Ryder Cup history, indeed.

New faces for Europe, too?

Why, yes, it is very likely you’ll see some players making their maiden appearances for Europe. There are plenty of potential rookies who are in the mix – and as has been mentioned, there are a lot of big events still to come. Keep an eye on these possible debutants: Thomas Detry, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Robert MacIntyre, Guido Migliozzi, Victor Perez, Matthias Schwab, Matt Wallace and Bernd Wiesberger to name but a few.

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