Schauffele, who recently won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, has contributed three points in all to what could become a runaway win. Cantlay, the newly minted PGA Tour player of the year and FedExCup Playoff champion, has added 2½. Morikawa, the reigning Open champion and last year’s PGA Championship winner, has chipped in two, same as Berger.
Stricker, the Wisconsin native who used four of his six discretionary picks on first-timers, has done an excellent job of selecting players who are comfortable together. That hasn’t always been the case for a US side that has won only two of nine Ryder Cups this century despite routinely coming in with the superior individual players.
For the first time since 1993, the United States are playing a Ryder Cup without Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson in the team – though Phil Mickelson is at Whistling Straits in a vice-captaincy role. So far, they have not been missed as a 12-man US contingent with only 12 previous Ryder Cup appearances among them are making the most of their opportunity to turn the page.
A large part of the US team’s inexplicable Ryder Cup futility in the Tiger-Phil era was down to the lack of team morale so frequently ascribed to the team’s broader failings. Even if you were paired with Woods, and Woods was your friend, it was intimidating just to play with him – and there was a certain intimidation coming off Mickelson, too, that made him not an ideal partner. You simply didn’t want to lose if you were playing with these guys, so you played tighter.