Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau 2020 in Dubai: The Ryder Cup on Lake Michigan counts differently than other tournaments
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Padraig Harrington has a clue of what motivation can achieve.
Growing up in Dublin's working-class district Rathfarnham, the now 50-year-old Irishman has worked his way up to one of the world's best golfers, a three-time major winner, a folk hero in his home country.
As the captain of the European Ryder Cup team, Harrington recently posted a motivational video on the Internet.
In it he reminds that in the history so far only 164 golfers have gone into the prestigious duel with the USA for Europe.
In contrast, 5,780 people have already climbed Mount Everest, 570 people have been in space, and 445 players have won the World Cup.
In other words: To be nominated for the Ryder Cup for Europe is something very special.
It's more unusual than standing on Mount Everest.
For the 43rd time it is the continental duel
As of Friday, twelve European golf stars will have to honor this honor again.
On the Whistling Straits Golf Course, picturesquely situated on Lake Michigan in the town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, you will compete against the best US golfers, and you will need this special motivation to defend your 2018 title.
It is the 43rd edition of this traditional competition, which has been postponed by a year due to Corona, and it is approaching its 100th anniversary.
In 1927 the English seed holder Samuel Ryder had the idea of having British and American golfers compete against each other, and since 1979 the rest of Europe has also been allowed to participate.
The record so far: 26 wins for the USA, 14 for Europe, two draws.
On paper, the starting position is very clear and would speak for US success number 27: Harrington's US colleague Steve Stricker has eight of the ten top ten players in the world rankings in his dozen.
It's the who's who of current golf: from Dustin Johnson to Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, from Brooks Koepka to Collin Morikawa, from Justin Thomas to Jordan Spieth to Bryson DeChambeau.
Actually, the only sonorous name missing is Tiger Woods.
Different things count here than in other tournaments
Europe, on the other hand, has Jon Rahm, who is currently first in the world rankings, in its ranks - but the Spaniard is the only top ten golfer that Harrington can offer.
So far, so clear.
But the Ryder Cup was never just the sum of its parts, the Americans often went on the green as the favorites, and in the end the Europeans had the better end for themselves.
Because other things count on this long weekend than in normal golf tournaments.
It's about team spirit, about cooperation and sometimes also about against each other.
That's what Steve Stricker is most concerned with at the moment.
The US captain is not only a golfer these days, he is also in demand as a mediator, psychologist, and soul-caress.
As much as the USA has an excess of top golfers, it also has a potential for special, one could also say: strenuous types.
At the press conferences of the US team on the training days since Monday, the public was less interested in the duel with Europe, but more in the duel between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
Both superstars in their industry, Koepka, four-time major winner, DeChambeau the winner of the US Open last year.
Both of them, however, also connected in deep dislike.
For years the two tease each other as tormentors, Koepka criticized DeChambeau's muscle mass, who countered with derogatory remarks about Koepka's physique.
There are interview videos in which the two roll their eyes over the respective competitor.
It is on the verge of silliness.
All parties involved are currently trying to negotiate the conflict with as few thresholds as possible.
DeChambeau, who, annoyed by the media, had not given the press any interviews for months, made his first statement on Tuesday and stressed that he had had "great talks" with Koepka, which sounds a bit like the official communiqué after a political summit.
On Monday, Stricker ordered them to have dinner together, which was "nice," said DeChambeau.
On Wednesday, the US team posted a video on Twitter showing the two rivals in training having a chat.
Everything in line with the de-escalation strategy.
But that could not prevent the conflict of the US divas from remaining the dominant theme of Sheboygan's first days.
The four-time captain of the European team, Tony Jacklin, called the dispute “a little childish”, but also “a problem for the US team”: “I just know that at the moment I would rather be in the European team cabin than in the cabin of the USA. "
You can always rely on Garcia and Poulter
Europeans have no such worries at all, on the contrary.
Harrington deliberately plays the team spirit card.
With Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, he has nominated two golfers for the team who may not be in top form this year, but who were always reliable at the Ryder Cup.
For the Spaniard Garcia it is the tenth Ryder Cup participation since 1999, the 41-year-old is something like Senor Ryder Cup.
With a total of 25.5 points, he is the most successful Ryder Cup player in history.
Even if Garcia came to the competition in moderate shape - when it came to Europe and the USA, he usually achieved his best performances.
"I can't explain that to myself," he says.
Maybe it's because of this teenage story: As a 15-year-old, he was an astonished spectator at the Ryder Cup in Oak Hill, Rochester in 1995.
The great Severiano Ballesteros had exchanged a few words with him at the time, there was a photo taken together, Garcia then went home as if full of inspiration, "at that time I already felt the energy that emanates from this".
The energy that Martin Kaymer also feels.
Kaymer is once again the only German in the Ryder Cup, but not as a player, but as one of the five vice captains in Europe.
He “of course tried everything to qualify me for the team, but he has to admit that it just wasn't good enough,” he says.
His expertise is still in great demand these days: After all, Kaymer has fond memories of the facility on Lake Michigan: in 2010 he celebrated the first of his two major successes here with the PGA Championship.
How does it end?
Kaymer is certain: Europe will win.
There it is again: "We Europeans have the better team spirit."