This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.
When one Ryder Cup team is so strong and the other team isn't, none of the other stuff really matters. Not the pairings, not the course, not the personality clashes, not the captain's picks, not even the captains.
And that was the case over the weekend at Whistling Straits, where the U.S. Ryder Cup put a modern-day-record beatdown on a gallant but simply overmatched European team, 19-9.
The 12-man American team included eight of the top-10 players in the world rankings, plus No. 11 Harris English, No. 13 Jordan Spieth and No. 16 Daniel Berger. No. 21 Scottie Scheffler was the lowest-ranked guy on the team at No. 21.
Sure, the Euros have world No. 1 Jon Rahm, but then you have to go all the way to No. 14 Viktor Hovland to find their second player. That's right, Rory McIlroy is lower, at No. 15. You have to go all the way outside the top-60 to find Bernd Wiesberger.
While there were some questionable decisions by European captain Padraig Harrington, they didn't matter that much, certainly not anywhere near enough to shift five points to his team and five away from the Americans.
In a minute, we'll review all 24 players as best we can from a fantasy perspective, though the Ryder Cup is a completely different animal than the week-in and week-out grind of stroke-play tournament after stroke-play tournament.
But the lingering question will be: Can Europe even contend in the foreseeable future, with the American team so strong and so collectively young? They'll certainly do their best to construct the course – Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome – to suit their strengths while also blunting the U.S. power. Whistling Straits simply played into the hands of the big-hitting U.S. lineup.
There should be a big turnover for the Europeans. Stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood surely will be done, and 44-year-old Paul Casey better be, for Europe's sake. Wiesberger, 35, can't be counted on, and it doesn't appear Tommy Fleetwood or Matt Fitzpatrick can be, either, though some of these guys could automatically qualify.
Who is in the pipeline? England's Robert MacIntyre (ranked No. 55) is the top name, though he is already 25 – older than Hovland and Collin Morikawa. Italy's Guido Migliozzi (ranked 67th) is 24 and would be a natural for his home country. Then there are the 20-year-old Hojgaard twins from Denmark, 84th-ranked Rasmus and 156th-ranked Nicolai. But who knows where the four of them will be in two years. And besides, Europe probably needs even more fresh blood.
None of this will be decided any time soon. For now, here's a look at all 24 golfers in the Ryder Cup.
Perhaps no one enhanced his actual golf value more than DJ, who was the only player to go 5-0, showing how dominant he still can be (no one else even had four wins). At 37, he was the oldest golfer on the U.S. team and has struggled all year without a PGA Tour win so far in 2021. He's still ranked No. 2 in the world, but he didn't play like it. Johnson's prices wherever you play fantasy golf have dipped of late; that might have been premature but take advantage of them while you can.
The Ryder Cup rookie was pretty darn accomplished to begin with, but the Ryder Cup is a different bird, and Morikawa got to ease his way in by pairing with DJ for three wins before halving against Hovland in singles. By the time Italy rolls around in 2023, Morikawa likely will be a team leader.
Cantlay continued his ruthless play from the end of the PGA Tour season, and this experience should make him even stronger on Tour this coming season. He went 3-0-1 paired twice with good friend Xander Schauffele. He handled Shane Lowry pretty easily in singles in a match that mattered as one of the first of the day.
Schauffele went 3-1, losing to Rory McIlroy in singles. Two of his wins came with Cantlay and the third with DJ, so he didn't have to take a lead role in any of those matches. It's hard to slight a guy ranked fifth in the world who won Olympic gold, but Schauffele still has that pesky problem of winning on the PGA Tour.
Thomas was a so-so 2-1-1, easily handling an overmatched Tyrrell Hatton in singles but winning only one other match in three tries. He'll be on the team for years, but he's yet to stand out. His late-season play on Tour was definitely improved from midseason, but he has fallen out of the top-5 in the world.
Here is the absolute biggest winner of the entire Ryder Cup. Not only did DeChambeau play well – he beat Sergio Garcia in singles – but more importantly he showed himself in a different light, becoming a fan favorite. Whether that continues on Tour is still to be determined, but the days of fans yelling "Brooksie" might be over. And if that's the case, DeChambeau could be in store for a huge season without the major distractions that clearly affected him.
Koepka apparently has put his feud with DeChambeau to bed for good, so that's a plus. But he was only 2-2, carried a wrist injury into the competition on top of his two balky knees. You wonder how long his body will hold up.
Finau was one of three Americans with a losing record, teaming with Harris English to go 1-1 before falling to Ian Poulter in singles. Not a great Ryder Cup. But he had a breakthrough win recently, and that should bode well for a good season ahead.
At 32, English was the oldest of the six U.S. rookies and finally made a Ryder Cup team. It likely will be his lone shot. He went 1-2 playing twice with Finau before losing to an aging Lee Westwood in singles. Sure, the match didn't mean anything, but Westwood has been notoriously bad in Ryder Cup singles, 3-7 coming in.
Spieth was the third American with a losing record, and that is a stunner. His singles match was meaningless, but he could only halve with Tommy Fleetwood and that means he's never won a singles match.
Berger was either the 11th or 12th man on the team. He went 2-1, beating a weak Matt Fitzpatrick in a meaningless singles match. There probably will be more Ryder Cups in Berger's future and, at No. 16 in the world he's a big-time player. But he surely is behind most of his teammates.
The U.S.'s lowest-ranked player, Scheffler will forever be part or Ryder Cup lore for his singles smackdown of world No. 1 Jon Rahm. Scheffler is the only American without a win on Tour. It was coming soon regardless, but his Sunday at Whistling Straits should give him even more confidence in the season ahead.
Rahm carried his teammates on his back as best he could and showed that he clearly is the No. 1 player in the world and the future leader of this team. We probably can chalk up his surprising loss to Scottie Scheffler to exhaustion from the first two days. It in no way diminishes Rahm's performance or his standing on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy was pretty bad until beating Xander Schauffele in singles, which continues his so-so play on Tour. He scored major points for his emotional interviews on Sunday, for sure. But for Europe to contend in 2023 they need him to be an anchor, and that's a question right now.
Hovland is a special player, but he did not have the luxury of easing into the Ryder Cup as his contemporary Collin Morikawa did. At 24, Hovland needed to play a major role, and carry weaker partners, to boot. Hovland will be far better come Italy in 2023 as he continues to improve on the PGA Tour.
The winningest Ryder Cupper in history continued to be a thorn in the Americans' side even in defeat, teaming with Rahm for three big wins. He fell to Bryson DeChambeau in singles. But Garcia showed he can still be an integral part of the team and therefore likely will be back in 2023, and perhaps longer. If only he could putt on Tour like he does at the Ryder Cup.
Hatton is ranked in the top-20, he's only 30 years old. Which means he's one of Europe's better players. But he wasn't very good while going 1-2-1. And in his lone win, Shane Lowry carried him. Hatton can be a part of a winning European team, but not as the fourth-best guy on the team, as his ranking suggests.
There's no way to sugarcoat it: Casey is 44 years old and went 0-4. He did draw a bad hand in singles in Dustin Johnson, but he also lost while paired with Hovland, Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger. Casey is still ranked 25th in the world and coming off a great season. But his game is not built for the Ryder Cup.
Fitzpatrick ranked 27th in the world but you'd never know it. He went 0-3, continuing to be largely a non-factor when playing in the States. He even lost the last hole of the Ryder Cup to lose his singles match to Daniel Berger. With his ranking, there's a good chance Fitzpatrick makes the team in 2023, and that's a problem for Europe.
Westwood is 48. This was his 11th Ryder Cup. He got to go out with a hard-fought singles win over Harris English. Westwood is still ranked 35th in the world and showed a lot last season, but it's hard to envision him continuing at that level.
Fleetwood has been bad for the better part of two years and was irrelevant in Wisconsin without Francesco Molinari by his side. The famed "Moliwood" pairing went 4-0 in Paris in 2018. Fleetwood is another guy who could be back for Europe because there just aren't enough other options. As for the PGA Tour, he still has not figured out to play well in the States.
Lowry is an interesting consideration for Europe going forward. He's 34 but was a rookie. He delivered a fiery win over Tony Finau and Harris English, almost singlehandedly doing it alongside an ineffective Tyrrell Hatton. But in the end, we guess he was a rookie at age 34 for a reason.
One of the great Ryder Cuppers of all-time likely played for the final time. But he kept his streak of never losing a singles match intact by downing Tony Finau. Poulter is 45 and was a captain's pick, and it was the right call given Padraig Harrington's other options. But if Europe needs him in 2023, it will be in big trouble.
The 35-year-old Austrian handcuffed Harrington by automatically qualifying; he never would've been a captain's pick. Predictably, Wiesberger ended up 0-3. He was the lowest-ranked golfer in the Ryder Cup and, while he wasn't the worst, there's really no way Europe can compete with him on the team. He's another European who has shown no ability to play well on the PGA Tour.