Complete Guide to the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2016

Complete Guide to the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine

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    The scale of pre-Ryder Cup buildup gets bigger with each contesting of the biennial showdown between the United States and Europe.

    Not that we’re complaining, as the increased exposure, and things like captain Davis Love III picking Ryan Moore as the final member of the U.S. squad during a primetime telecast of a football game, are only good for the game of golf.

    The aforementioned Mr. Love will lead his squad of 12 Americans against Darren Clarke’s European side at Robert Trent Jones-designed Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, for a three-day team competition showdown.

    The Americans will have the bitter memory of the 2012 Meltdown at Medinah and a sound defeat at Gleneagles in 2014 firmly in the fore of their minds. The Europeans, for their part, will be keen to continue a tradition of dominance but will arrive on American soil keenly aware of the inexperience of a squad that includes five rookies.

    To read up on the tournament format, T.V. schedule, biggest storylines and full team breakdowns, click through.

Tournament Format

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    Friday and Saturday consist of morning and afternoon team play sessions. The morning session consists of alternate shot foursomes. The afternoon is better ball four-ball play. Sunday play consists of 12 singles matches. 

    Each match is worth one point. If a match ends in a draw, each side gets half a point. The first team to win 14.5 points wins the Ryder Cup. In the event of a 14-14 tie, the defending champion (Europe) retains the cup. 

    Here are match format details, per RyderCup.com:

    In four-balls, each member of a two-man team plays his own ball, so four balls are in play on every hole. Each team counts the lowest of its two scores on each hole, and the team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole. If the low scores are tied, the hole is halved.

    In foursomes, each two-man team plays one ball per hole with the players taking turns until each hole is complete. Players alternate hitting tee shots, with one leading off on odd-numbered holes, and the other hitting first on even-numbered holes. The team with the low score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved.

    In singles, each matches features one player from each team. The player with the lower score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved.

Schedule and Viewing Info

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    Tee Times

    Friday & Saturday:

    Foursomes              

    • 7:35 a.m.
    • 7:50 a.m.
    • 8:05 a.m.
    • 8:20 a.m.

    Fourball

    • 12:30 p.m.
    • 12:45 p.m.
    • 1 p.m.
    • 1:15 p.m.

    Sunday:

    Singles - 11:04 a.m.—1:05 p.m. (11-minute intervals). Finish at approximately 4:55 p.m.

      

    TV Schedule

    Friday, Sept. 30: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the GOLF Channel

    Saturday, Oct. 1: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on NBC

    Sunday, Oct. 2: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on NBC

       

    Live streams on RyderCup.com

    Thursday, Sept. 29: Captain's match from 12 to 3 p.m. and opening ceremonies from 4 to 5 p.m.

    Friday, Sept. 30: Ryder Cup Live featured matches from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Saturday, Oct 1: Ryder Cup Live featured matches from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Sunday, Oct. 2: Ryder Cup Live featured matches from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

       

    *All times local to Chaska, Minnesota (CDT)

Ryder Cup History

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    Books have been written about the history of the biennial team competition between Europe (originally just Great Britain) and the United States. The short version of the long history of the Ryder Cup is that from the first contest at Worcester Country Club in 1927 through the early 1980s, the United States was dominant. 

    Since 1985, however, the Europeans have been beastly, winning 11 competitions to the U.S. side's four, including three of the last four. 

    The most notable cups in recent memory were both contested on American soil: The 1999 "Battle of Brookline" in which terrible shirt-clad Justin Leonard poured in a 40-footer to beat Jose Maria Olazabal and capture the Ryder Cup. 

    Second, the Meltdown at Medinah in which the U.S. squandered a final-day 10-6 lead in the largest collapse in Ryder Cup history.

    In the most recent edition, the Euros coasted to a 16.5-11.5 win at Gleneagles in 2014, easily handling the Americans. Jamie Donaldson sealed the deal with a memorable nine-iron to kick-in range to topple Keegan Bradley and clinch the cup.

    Phil Mickelson questioned U.S. captain Tom Watson in the post-event press conference, inferring that Paul Azinger's "pod" system of 2008 was superior. Which leads us to...

Biggest Storylines

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    ...the Ryder Cup task force

    You had one job! Phil Mickelson's post-tournament press conference roasting of captain Tom Watson's management led directly to the Ryder Cup task force, which was dedicated to reexamining the PGA of America's Ryder Cup procedures ahead of the 2016 edition. While it's not abundantly clear what the task force has done (other than shake up the captain's picks process), the success or failure of the U.S. side this year will be laid at their feet.

       

    Tiger Woods

    Also noteworthy: Tiger Woods, who has reportedly had a very active role in the task force and as a vice-captain will return to the spotlight for the first time in a 2015-2016 season that has seen him sitting on the sidelines with injury. Woods' input in assisting Love will be widely discussed, but moreover, fans and the media will just be thrilled to see the 14-time major winner on a golf course again. 

       

    Phil Mickelson

    Mickelson's career record in the Ryder Cup isn't exceptional at just 16-19-6. The veteran will be under the microscope in the wake of his 2014 remarks and after his equipment switch last week aimed at better performance at Hazeltine.

        

    European rookies abound

    Half of captain Clarke’s European team is comprised of Ryder Cup rookies. Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters will all be appearing in their first cup contest. To say that Europe's success or failure rests on their shoulders is an obvious but nevertheless true point.

About Hazeltine

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    One of the upper Midwest's finest tracks, Hazeltine National Golf Club got off to a rough start as the host venue for the 1970 U.S. Open. Competitors voiced their displeasure with the number of blind tee shots and acute doglegs.

    Reworked prior to the Payne Stewart-won 1991 U.S. Open, Hazeltine's profile was further raised by the 2002 and 2009 PGA Championships. The course joins Pinehurst No. 2 as the only venue to host a U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.

    The par-72 layout measures more than 7,600 yards. Laid out over rolling terrain, the course is designed to test every facet of players' games and offer a thorough, major-worthy examination. 

    Minnesota native and U.S. assistant captain, Tom Lehman said the following about the course (per Golf.com):

    For all of its hype as such a big and wide open golf course, in actual fact, it’s a precision-style golf course that demands a very disciplined approach off the tee. People still remember the cornfield and pasture comparisons in the old days, from the 1970s, but it’s not really a power hitter’s paradise. It’s much more than that. You have to take what it gives you. Length may be an advantage, but generally speaking, Hazeltine favors a guy who hits it straight. You’ve got to be precise.

Team USA Will Win If...

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    ...players bring their stroke-play games to match play. 

    It's no great secret that many American stars have performed less than spectacularly in match play. Mickelson is less than .500. Rickie Fowler has never won a match. Only J.B. Holmes and Patrick Reed have records to boast about, and each player has only competed in one Ryder Cup. 

    However, consider the quality of the U.S. side's core players outside of match play. 

    • Dustin Johnson: Official World Golf Ranking: No. 2
    • Jordan Spieth: OWGR: No. 4
    • Patrick Reed: OWGR: No. 8
    • Rickie Fowler: OWGR: No. 9
    • Phil Mickelson: OWGR: No. 15
    • Jimmy Walker: OWGR: No. 16

    Forgetting everything else, if these golfers play up to their ability levels during foursomes and four-ball play, the U.S. side simply has too much firepower for Europe to handle.

Team Europe Will Win If...

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    ...veterans excel and rookies overperform. 

    Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose have to be brilliant. The sextet will have to be solid Friday and Saturday and nearly sweep their singles matches to give the Europeans a legitimate chance. 

    Expecting multiple points from Wood, Pieters and Sullivan to be brilliant in their first Ryder Cups is a big ask. From Willett, a Masters champion and No. 10 golfer in the OWGR, and Bello, perhaps a bit more can be expected.

    The Europeans only have three golfers in the top 25 of the OWGR (compared to the Americans 10). So it will take some seriously inspired play all around to win.

Prediction

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    USA wins: 15.5-12.5

    We see the U.S. side rallying around the memory of the legendary Arnold Palmer, who passed away Sunday at 87. The beloved Palmer, who won the second-most Ryder Cup points of all time, 23, will serve as inspiration for the Americans to take down the Europeans this year. 

    The home-court advantage should be good enough for at least a one-point difference in the winning scores.

    And assuming the likes of Spieth, Fowler, Reed and Johnson step up to the plate and take care of business, the U.S. side's superior talent, coupled with the Palmerian motivation, will see the cup returning to American hands for the first time since 2008.

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