From 1 to 24, ranking every player in the Ryder Cup

Golf

GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy — There will be plenty of new faces on the European Ryder Cup team, as veterans like Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood won’t be competing at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside Rome after they left the DP World Tour for the LIV Golf League.

There will also be a few unexpected names on the United States team: U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and Open Championship winner Brian Harman, for starters.

The best players in the world will still be teeing it up over three days, starting Friday, when the U.S. team will try to end a 30-year drought on foreign soil. The home squad has won seven of the past eight Ryder Cups; the lone exception being Europe’s 14½-13½ victory at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago in 2012. The Europeans rallied from a 10-6 deficit on the final day in what became known as the “Miracle at Medinah.”

While Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Spain’s Jon Rahm, Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Americans Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will be counted on heavily by their respective teams, who are the players flying under the radar?

Here’s a look at the golfers who will compete in the 44th Ryder Cup, ranking them from first to 24th:

1. Viktor Hovland

Team: Europe
Country: Norway
Age: 26
World ranking: 4
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: 0-3-2 (one appearance)

As a 24-year-old Ryder Cup rookie, Hovland was thrown into the fire at Whistling Straits, playing in each of the five sessions because of the European team’s lack of depth. He performed like you’d expect as a first-timer, collecting two half-points with an 0-3-2 record. There wasn’t a hotter golfer on the planet a month ago, after Hovland won back-to-back FedEx Cup playoffs events, including the Tour Championship. He is one of the best drivers and iron players in the game, and now has an improving short game to go with it.

2. Rory McIlroy

Team: Europe
Country: Northern Ireland
Age: 26
World ranking: 2
Major championship wins: Four (2012/2014 PGA Championship, 2011 U.S. Open, 2014 Open Championship)
Ryder Cup record: 12-12-4 (six appearances)

The 34-year-old will be competing in his seventh Ryder Cup. After collecting three points in each of 2012, 2014 and 2016, McIlroy won only three in his past two appearances combined. McIlroy was reduced to tears when he struggled to win a single point at Whistling Straits. He was only 3-6-0 in his past two Ryder Cups. His driving ability — he led the PGA Tour with a 326.3-yard average off the tee — should be a weapon at Marco Simone.

3. Scottie Scheffler

Team: USA
Hometown: Ridgewood, New Jersey
Age: 27
World ranking: 1
Major championship wins: One (2022 Masters)
Ryder Cup record: 2-0-1 (one appearance)

Scheffler’s impressive rookie performance at Whistling Straits was his coming-out party. He went 2-0-1 and defeated Rahm 4&3 in Sunday singles, when no one else wanted to play the red-hot Spaniard. Scheffler would win four times the next spring, including his first major at the 2022 Masters. Scheffler’s ballstriking was otherworldly good this season; he led the PGA Tour in strokes gained: total (2.314), tee to green (2.615), off the tee (1.029) and approach (1.204). But his putting — he was 151st in strokes gained: putting (-.301) — is why he hasn’t won since the Players Championship in March.

4. Jon Rahm

Team: Europe
Country: Spain
Age: 28
World ranking: 3
Major championship wins: Two (2021 U.S. Open, 2023 Masters)
Ryder Cup record: 4-3-1 (two appearances)

The reigning Masters champion finished in the top 10 of three of the four majors this season, including a tie for second at The Open. He accounted for more than one-third of the Europeans’ nine points (3½) with a 3-1-1 record in their ugly 19-9 loss at Whistling Straits in 2021. Rahm has the game and DNA to become a Spanish hero for the European squad, like his predecessors Seve Ballesteros and Garcia.

5. Patrick Cantlay

Team: USA
Hometown: Long Beach, California
Age: 31
World ranking: 5
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: 3-0-1 (one appearance)

Cantlay didn’t find the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour this season but still played like one of the best in the world. He finished in the top 15 in three of four majors, including a tie for ninth at the PGA Championship. He led the tour in total driving and birdie average (4.5). Cantlay went 3-0-1 as a Ryder Cup rookie at Whistling Straits. He gives the U.S. a built-in pairing with his good friend Xander Schauffele, and his methodical pace of play will put opponents to sleep faster than a four-course Italian feast.

6. Xander Schauffele

Team: USA
Hometown: San Diego, California
Age: 29
World ranking: 6
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: 3-1-0 (one appearance)

Schauffele didn’t win this past season either, but it was one of his more consistent campaigns as a pro. He had a career-high 11 top-10 finishes and was runner-up at the Wells Fargo Championship and Tour Championship. He didn’t miss a cut in 22 starts on tour. The 2021 Olympic gold medalist went 3-1-0 in his Ryder Cup debut the same year. Schauffele and Cantlay are a combined 6-3 when playing together at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

Team: USA
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
Age: 33
World ranking: 17
Major championship wins: Five (2017/2018 U.S. Open, 2018/2019/2023 PGA Championship)
Ryder Cup record: 6-5-1 (three appearances)

Koepka is the LIV Golf League’s lone representative at the Ryder Cup. He had a 6-5-1 record in his past three appearances and has never lost in singles with a 2-0-1 mark. Koepka went 2-2-0 at Whistling Straits only six months after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated right knee and shattered knee cap. He is much healthier now, as evidenced by his runner-up finish at the Masters and win at the PGA Championship, his fifth major championship victory.

Team: USA
Hometown: Los Angeles
Age: 26
World ranking: 19
Major championship wins: Two (2020 PGA Championship, 2021 Open Championship)
Ryder Cup record: 3-0-1 (one appearance)

Morikawa and Dustin Johnson were unbeatable as a team at Whistling Straits. Unfortunately for the U.S., DJ won’t be around this week after leaving for the LIV Golf League. Morikawa went 3-0-1 in his Ryder Cup debut. He was the first U.S. rookie to go 3-0-0 or better in foursomes and four-ball matches combined since Larry Nelson in 1979. The two-time major champion’s form wasn’t as good as it has been in the past this season, but he’s still one of the best ball strikers in the world.

Team: USA
Hometown: Burbank, California
Age: 32
World ranking: 7
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

Homa will be playing in his first Ryder Cup. He was a breakout star at the 2022 Presidents Cup with a 4-0-0 record. Homa trailed South Korea’s Tom Kim 3 down with seven holes to play in Sunday singles and rallied for a 1-up victory. He captured the 2022 Fortinet Championship and 2023 Farmers Insurance Open this past season. Homa arrived in Italy on a heater, having put together six straight top-12 finishes, including a tie for 10th at The Open. He was third in putting average (1.699) on tour and handles pressure on the greens as well as anyone.

Team: Europe
Country: England
Age: 32
World ranking: 13
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: 4-2-2 (two appearances)

The Englishman was a big reason for Europe’s 17½-10½ victory at Le Golf National outside Paris in 2018. Fleetwood went 4-1 in that event, winning each of the four matches he played with Italy’s Francesco Molinari. The “Moliwood” romance will have to continue outside the ropes this week; Molinari is a non-playing vice captain. Fleetwood was heating up at the right time for the European team with five top-10 finishes in six starts since July. He tied for fifth in the U.S. Open and 10th at The Open.

Team: Europe
Country: Sweden
Age: 23
World ranking: 80
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

Two or four years from now, Aberg might be among the handful of players at the very top of the list. The 23-year-old is that talented. How will he handle the pressure of his first Ryder Cup? The former Texas Tech star had decent results as a rookie on the PGA Tour, tying for fourth at the John Deere Classic and 14th at the Wyndham Championship. He was better on the DP World Tour, where he won the Omega European Masters to clinch a spot on the team, then tied for 10th at the BMW PGA Championship.

Team: USA
Hometown: Dallas
Age: 30
World ranking: 12
Major championship wins: Three (2015 Masters, 2015 U.S. Open, 2017 Open Championship)
Ryder Cup record: 8-7-3 (four appearances)

Spieth bounced back from a midsummer lull to tie for 23rd at The Open and sixth at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. He is one of the Americans’ most experienced Ryder Cup players with an 8-7-3 record. Spieth is 5-2 in four-ball matches and came from behind in six of his eight victories in the event. He was 5-0 in the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. Spieth skipped the team’s scouting trip to Marco Simone earlier this month because of the pending birth of his daughter, Sophie, who arrived on Sept. 12.

Team: Europe
Country: England
Age: 31
World ranking: 11
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: 2-4-1 (two appearances)

Hatton had an unspectacular 2-4-1 record in his past two Ryder Cup appearances, but it’s probably time for the Englishman to step up as one of the European team’s top performers. He’s one of the better putters on the PGA Tour — he was seventh in strokes gained: putting (.597) this past season. He also had seven top-10 finishes, finishing second at the Players Championship and tying for third at the Wells Fargo Championship and RBC Canadian Open.

14. Brian Harman

Team: USA
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 36
World ranking: 9
Major championship wins: One (2023 Open Championship)
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

Overlooked for much of his professional career, Harman broke through this season by winning his first major at The Open in dominant fashion. He also tied for fifth at the BMW Championship, the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Although Harman will be making his Ryder Cup debut, he was a standout match-play performer as an amateur. He led the PGA Tour in scrambling and was seventh in total putting. Harman keeps the ball in the fairway off the tee, which will be important given Marco Simone’s treacherous rough. If Harman rolls the ball like he did over four days at Royal Liverpool in July, he’ll be tough to beat this week.

Team: Europe
Country: England
Age: 29
World ranking: 8
Major championship wins: One (2022 U.S. Open)
Ryder Cup record: 0-5-0 (two appearances)

Obviously, Fitzpatrick is a much better player than his 0-5-0 record in the Ryder Cup would suggest. He is ranked No. 8 in the world. He won the 2022 U.S. Open. He has won twice on the PGA Tour and eight times in Europe. Earning a point in the Ryder Cup would get the monkey off his back. His form has been good lately. After tying for second at the BMW Championship, he tied for 13th at the Tour Championship. He had two good showings on the DP World Tour after that.

Team: USA
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 30
World ranking: 24
Major championship wins: Two (2017/2022 PGA Championship)
Ryder Cup record: 6-2-1 (two appearances)

There won’t be a more scrutinized player in Italy than Thomas, who was a captain’s pick after failing to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his career. Thomas’ form was better at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, in which he finished fifth earlier this month. Zach Johnson said the pick was a no-brainer. Thomas is 6-2-1 in two previous Ryder Cup appearances, including 3-0-0 in foursomes and 2-0-0 in singles. Combined with his record in three Presidents Cups, Thomas is 16-5-3 in international team events as a pro. As Johnson said: “You just don’t leave JT at home.”

Team: Europe
Country: England
Age: 43
World ranking: 37
Major championship wins: One (2013 U.S. Open)
Ryder Cup record: 13-8-2 (five appearances)

The oldest player on the European team was left off the 2021 roster and wanted to make sure he didn’t leave any doubt this time. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, his first victory in more than four years, to climb back in the top 50 in the world. He has a sparkling 13-8-2 record in five previous Ryder Cup appearances. He’s 7-2-1 in foursome (alternate shot) matches.

18. Wyndham Clark

Team: USA
Hometown: Denver
Age: 29
World ranking: 10
Major championship wins: One (2023 U.S. Open)
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

Clark, another Ryder Cup rookie, was ranked outside the top 200 in the Official World Golf Ranking when the U.S. won at Whistling Straits two years ago. He picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, then won the U.S. Open the next month. Clark outlasted McIlroy at Los Angeles Country Club to win his first major. He recently told Golf Channel he’d like another shot at McIlroy in the Ryder Cup: “I like to think I am better than him and I want to prove that.”

Team: USA
Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana
Age: 27
World ranking: 20
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

Burns will be playing in his first Ryder Cup. He’ll be looking for better results than his maiden Presidents Cup in 2022, in which he went 0-3-2. He has proved to be a stealth match-play performer, however, by winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in March. He ranked ninth on tour in strokes gained: putting (.584), which will be valuable if he’s paired with his good friend Scheffler, as expected. He’ll also be sporting one heck of a mullet in Rome.

Team: USA
Hometown: Murrieta, California
Age: 34
World ranking: 25
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: 3-7-5 (four appearances)

Fowler’s resurgence was one of the best stories in golf this season, and he’ll be looking to turn around his fortunes in the Ryder Cup as well. He’ll be making his fifth appearance after going 3-7-5 in the previous four. Fowler is 1-6-5 in Ryder Cups played outside the U.S. He had 18 top-25 finishes this season, including a victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Team: Europe
Country: Ireland
Age: 36
World ranking: 34
Major championship wins: One (2019 Open Championship)
Ryder Cup record: 1-1-1 (one appearance)

Thomas wasn’t the only captain’s pick who was second-guessed. Lowry also missed the FedEx Cup playoffs after finishing 78th in the season-long points race. The 2019 Open Championship winner has fallen to 34th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Lowry had just one top-10 finish in 18 starts on the PGA Tour. His hot-and-cold putter was a big reason. Lowry ranked 112th in strokes gained: putting (-.114). Lowry was 1-1-1 in his Ryder Cup debut in 2021. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him perform better.

Team: Europe
Country: Austria
Age: 30
World ranking: 22
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

Straka has quietly become one of Europe’s top Ryder Cup hopes over the past two seasons. He picked up his second PGA Tour victory at the John Deere Classic in July. He tied for seventh at the PGA Championship and was runner-up at The Open. He tied for 14th in the Tour Championship. Straka, who was born in Austria and raised in Valdosta, Georgia, is ranked 22nd in the world. He’s very good when there’s an iron in his hands.

Team: Europe
Country: Scotland
Age: 27
World ranking: 55
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

MacIntyre qualified for the European team on points. He has picked up two victories on the DP World Tour and nearly won again before falling to McIlroy at the Genesis Scottish Open in July. MacIntyre captured the 2022 Italian Open at Marco Simone, holding off Fitzpatrick in a playoff.

Team: Europe
Country: Denmark
Age: 22
World ranking: 82
Major championship wins: None
Ryder Cup record: Rookie

The European team has been waiting for the Hojgaard twins to arrive. Nicolai is the first one to make the team; his brother, Rasmus, will have to wait at least another two years. Hojgaard, 22, captured his first DP World Tour win at the 2021 Italian Open, defeating Fleetwood and Poland’s Adrian Meronk by 1 stroke. He was the star of the Continental Europe team’s 14½-10½ victory over Great Britain and Ireland in the Hero Cup in January, earning 3½ points in four matches.

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