Singles matches to watch
KOHLER, Wis. – The U.S. Ryder Cup Team is out to a commanding 11-5 lead, and the buzz around Whistling Straits indicates a changing of the guard could be in store during Sunday’s Singles matches. But the Europeans likely won’t hand over the Cup without putting up a fight.
Both captains have now submitted their roster for Sunday’s final session of matches, and we know who the 12 players from each team will face. While each Singles match counts the same in the final point tally, some hold a little more intrigue than others.
Here are the four matches I’m most interested in watching on the Straits Course, where the Americans hope to spark a celebration in front of partisan crowds while the Europeans retain hopes of pulling off a historic upset:
Match 1 (11:04 a.m. CT): Xander Schauffele (U.S.) vs. Rory McIlroy (Europe)
It’s no surprise to see McIlroy in the leadoff spot. He has now gone first for Europe in three straight Ryder Cups, and he has never teed off later than third on Sunday. What is surprising, though, is to see the current iteration of McIlroy: seemingly listless and almost dour, having gone 0-3 in team play without any of his matches even reaching the 16th tee.
If the Europeans are to have any chance of turning the tide, it will have to start here with their emotional leader. But the Americans have also countered with strength, trotting out Schauffele who is looking to go 4-0 in his Ryder Cup debut. A Schauffele point here would signal an unceremonious end to a week to forget for McIlroy and push the Americans to the brink of victory.
Match 4 (11:37 a.m. CT): Bryson DeChambeau (U.S.) vs. Sergio Garcia (Europe)
Talk about intrigue. DeChambeau has reveled in the spotlight of his first home Ryder Cup, bringing fans to their feet with jaw-dropping drives with regularity. He earned the first full point of his Ryder Cup career with a comeback victory Saturday afternoon alongside Scottie Scheffler, and now he draws the all-time leading point earner in Ryder Cup history for his last match.
Garcia has been a revelation this week, turning back the clock while going 3-for-3 alongside countryman Jon Rahm. A 4-0 week would be beyond even the wildest expectations for the 41-year-old, and it might be needed to retain hopes of a European comeback. But if nothing else this match will offer a fascinating case study in two vastly different styles of approach to the Straits Course.
Match 5 (11:48 a.m. CT): Collin Morikawa (U.S.) vs. Viktor Hovland (Europe)
If you love the sound of a crisply-struck 5-iron, this match is for you. Morikawa and Hovland are both making their Ryder Cup debuts this week but seem likely to factor in matches for years if not decades to come. Now they’ll square off in a compelling Singles match, with Morikawa looking to go 4-0 on the week while Hovland hopes to salvage a debut that has been good at times but not good enough overall.
Morikawa already has two majors to his credit, including the 2020 PGA Championship, and Hovland has all the makings of a future major champion himself. This could be the first of many times that these two face off in a Ryder Cup setting.
Match 6 (11:59 a.m. CT): Dustin Johnson (U.S.) vs. Paul Casey (Europe)
Can DJ pull off the clean sweep? The only American to play in all five sessions, Johnson sits at a perfect 4-0 through team play as the world No. 2 has used his calm demeanor to fuel a stirring performance all week long. He’ll take on Casey, as the veteran Englishman looks to avoid a sweep of the other kind after losing each of his three team matches.
It’s also not a coincidence that U.S. Captain Steve Stricker put Johnson, his best player this week, in the heart of the Singles lineup. If things play out as they have through the first four sessions, there’s a good chance that Johnson could be in position to clinch the Ryder Cup – a fitting honor for the elder statesman on an incredibly young American team who has shouldered his load admirably over the first two days.