The Ryder Cup: Team Europe player profiles

With the Ryder Cup finally kicking off this Friday at Whistling Straits after a year-long postponement, watching Team Europe face off against Team USA has been long overdue.

Each team will field 12 players in total across the weekend: nine automatic qualifiers as well as three wildcard picks, chosen by the team captains.

Five vice-captains also make up the team to aid with match strategy.

This year, Team Europe heads into the competition with a stacked deck of promising debutants, experienced stars and former Ryder Cup winners.

Here are the captains, vice-captains and players from Team Europe to look out for this weekend.


Tommy Fleetwood

Age: 30

Country: England

World Ranking: 37

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Ryder Cup record: 4-1-0 (4 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws)

Tommy Fleetwood impressed on his Ryder Cup debut, winning four out of four matches with his partner, Francesco Molinari. 

Following a second place finish in the Italian Open and a 12th place finish at the BMW PGA Championships, Fleetwood is playing confidently ahead of the competition and told reporters not to ‘expect anything else but for Europe to win’.

Viktor Hovland

Age: 23

Country: Norway

World Ranking: 14

Ryder Cup appearances: Debut

Vikor Hovland will make his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, which marks the first time a Norwegian golfer has represented Team Europe. 

Since turning professional in 2019, Hovland has won two PGA tournaments and claimed his first win on the European tour this year, capping his meteoric rise within the sport. 

Rory McIlroy

Age: 32

Country: Northern Ireland

World Ranking: 15

Ryder Cup appearances: 5

Ryder Cup record: 11-9-4

One of the most recognisable names in the sport, Rory McIlroy has four wins from five Ryder Cup appearances and 13 Ryder Cup points overall.

This pedigree makes the Northern Irishman an accomplished pick for team Europe, and McIlroy will be eager to taste victory again after closely missing out on a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.  

Tyrrell Hatton

Age: 29

Country: England

World Ranking: 19

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Ryder Cup record: 1-2-0

2021 will be Tyrrell Hatton’s second Ryder Cup tournament, having won the competition on his debut in Paris in 2018. 

Hatton kicked off the year with a decisive win in the European tour, which led Pádraig Harrington to describe him as a ‘Ryder Cup captain’s dream’.

Sergio Garcia

Age: 41

Country: Spain

World Ranking: 43

Ryder Cup appearances: 9

Ryder Cup record: 22-12-7

Going into his 10th Ryder Cup appearance as a wildcard at Whistling Straits, Sergio Garcia has now played across four decades of the competition.

Across his appearances, Garcia is the record holder for most points ever won by a single competitor in Ryder Cup history, garnering 25 ½ points since his first selection in 1999.

Shane Lowry

Age: 34

Country: Ireland

World Ranking: 42

Ryder Cup appearances: Debut

Making his Ryder Cup debut at the age of 34, Lowry was named to the team as one of Harrington’s captain’s picks. 

The Irishman will be looking to harness the form he showed at this year’s U.S PGA Championship, where he finished tied fourth.

Matt Fitzpatrick

Age: 27

Country: England

World Ranking: 27

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Ryder Cup record: 0-2-0 

After a poor performance in 2016 at his first Ryder Cup, Matt Fitzpatrick is back in the competition with a point to prove at Whistling Straits.

He looked in good touch at Wentworth earlier in the month before faltering on the 71st hole, squandering his chance of a high finish. 

Paul Casey

Age: 44

Country: England

World Ranking: 24

Ryder Cup appearances: 4

Ryder Cup record: 4-3-5 

Paul Casey relied on a wildcard pick to play in the 2018 Ryder Cup, but had no issues qualifying this time. 

Heading into Whistling Straits in fine form, Casey has so far achieved top seven places at the Players, the PGA Championships, the US Open, and took part in the bronze medal playoffs at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. 

Ian Poulter

Age: 45

Country: England

World Ranking: 50

Ryder Cup appearances: 6

Ryder Cup record: 14-6-2

Nicknamed ‘the Postman’ because he always delivers on this stage, Ian Poulter has taken part in five Ryder Cup-winning sides. 

A wildcard pick this year, his most famous victory was in 2012, at the ‘Miracle of Medinah’, when the fiery Englishman won all four of his matches to pull off an incredible comeback for team Europe. 

Jon Rahm

Age: 26

Country: Spain

World Ranking: 1

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Ryder Cup record: 1-2-0

As world number one, Jon Rahm presents one of the biggest threats to team USA after he topped both teams’ points lists during the qualifying period.

This year has seen Rahm continue in fine form, winning his first Major Championship at the US Open, and being awarded PGA Player of the Year for his performance on the 2020-2021 PGA Tour.  

Lee Westwood

Age: 48

Country: England

World Ranking: 35

Ryder Cup appearances: 10

Ryder Cup record: 20-18-6

Lucky charm Lee Westwood returns to the fold after featuring on an impressive ten consecutive European Ryder Cup teams, seven of which he was on the winning side. 

Westwood will tie Sir Nick Faldo’s appearance record when he makes his 11th start at Whistling Straits. 

Bernd Wiesberger

Age: 35

Country: Austria

World Ranking: 63

Ryder Cup appearances: Debut

Bernd Wiesberger will start on Friday as the first Austrian to represent Europe at the Ryder Cup, and he makes his debut after qualifying via the European Points List. 

His appearance should prove all the more rewarding after a tendon injury in his left wrist threatened his career in 2018, keeping him out of team Europe for their most recent Ryder Cup victory.


Pádraig Harrington

Age: 50

Country: Republic of Ireland

Ryder Cup appearances: 6

Ryder Cup record: 9-13-3

Harrington is making the step-up to captain after three appearances as a vice-captain.

The Irishman has a mixed record as a player in the competition, with just nine wins from 25 matches. 

With the crowd expected to be overwhelmingly American due to travel restrictions, Harrington faces a disadvantage no previous European captain has needed to manage.


Luke Donald

Age: 43

Country: England

Ryder Cup appearances: 4

Ryder Cup record: 10-4-1

The former World Number One joins the coaching team having never lost the Ryder Cup as a player. 

Luke Donald was accidentally revealed as a vice-captain by Harrington during a press conference in 2020, but there’s no mistaking his credentials.

The Englishman has already steered Europe to victory as a vice-captain in 2018. 

Robert Karlsson

Age: 52

Country: Sweden

Ryder Cup appearances: 2

Ryder Cup record: 1-2-4

Although he is perhaps the least known of Harrington’s vice-captains, Robert Karlsson was the first deputy to be announced in September 2019.

Nicknamed ‘The Scientist’ for his analytical approach to golf, Karlsson will hope to bring a tactical edge to Europe’s vice-captain line-up.   

Graeme McDowell

Age: 42

Country: Northern Ireland

Ryder Cup appearances: 4

Ryder Cup record: 8-5-2

Star of the winning match at the 2010 Ryder Cup, Graeme McDowell joins with yards of experience in the competition, having represented Europe on four occasions during his career.

McDowell will once again team up with fellow Northern Irish star McIlroy, although the pair clashed during a legal dispute in 2014, they’ve since let bygones be bygones.

Henrik Stenson

Age: 45

Country: Sweden

Ryder Cup appearances: 5

Ryder Cup record: 10-7-2

After winning all three of his games as a wildcard pick in 2018, Stenson was announced the fifth and final European vice-captain on 15 September.

Upon his appointment, Harrington reassured the press that his “renowned wit and sense of fun will benefit the team room immensely”.

Martin Kaymer

Age: 36

Country: Germany

Ryder Cup appearances: 4

Ryder Cup record: 5-6-3

The youngest vice-captain in this year’s competition, Martin Kaymer played an integral role in helping team Europe retain the Ryder Cup in 2012 at Medinah.

Steve Stricker, who will captain team USA this year, was Kaymer’s opponent during the 2012 match – the German will certainly hope he can get the better of Stricker at yet another Ryder Cup.  

The Ryder Cup takes place between Team USA and Team Europe on 24-26 September and you can check out all of SWL’s coverage here.

Featured image credit: WSCS Sheboygan via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 3.0 license

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