Jonny Singer imagines a Ryder Cup hypothetical XI of the US and European teams…
Whether you’re a regular golf follower or a casual observer once every two years, the Ryder Cup seems to capture the imagination of sports fans everywhere each time it comes around.
For three days, as a sporting community, we’ve put putts first, prioritised foursomes over four-four-two, and generally made matchplay golf the centre of our world.
But football is now well and truly back. A week packed with Champions League showdowns and Europa League snore-fests, followed by a Premier League programme with nothing to distract from it. No more applauding good play from either side. No more will a polite question of tactics be seen as a crisis. We return to blissful, tribal, perpetually ‘crisis’-ridden football.
But, as we look back on the biggest day of the golfing year and the return to the perpetual chaos of gloriously endless soccer, what better way to mix the two than a hypothetical XI.
Here’s how the 24 Ryder Cup stars would come together if they were to be a football team:
GK Lee Westwood – the safest pair of hands you could ask for. No longer the dynamic or aggressive star he once was, he’s actually improved much of his game by making better decisions as he’s grown over. A steady veteran to keep the team going.
RB Patrick Reed – young, inexperienced, but far more dangerous than he looks. Some delightful touches, but has a nasty side too, which can really help get his team fired up. Forms a wonderful partnership down the right with Spieth.
LB Rickie Fowler – A bit of a surprise here – he’s never won a match, despite once being seen as the big hope. But there’s so much quality there that you know he will, at some point, start to capitalise. Remember the last left-back that went winless this long despite showing potential? Mr Gareth Frank Bale.
CB Graeme McDowell – Calm, combative when needed, and with a never-say-die attitude, McDowell is a vital member of this team. Although he has plenty of individual quality, his real value is in supporting the more inexperienced players around him.
CB Victor Dubuisson – Playing alongside McDowell, the Rookie has time to shine. Despite being new to this level, he adapts seamlessly, and as the last line of defence (he played the final match of every session he was involved in), he was excellent at seeing off any potential debut, even though most of the work had been done up front.
CM Ian Poulter – The enforcer. Gets in his opponents faces, bringing all the passion and inspiration you could ask for. He may lack the quality he once had, but he’s still a formidable opponent in any team game.
CM Justin Rose – The engine room. Alongside his fellow Englishman Poulter, this is the heart of the team. A bit like Andrea Pirlo, Rose is a delightful-looking player who has come to be more appreciated the longer he continues at the highest level.
RW Jordan Spieth – Young, tricky, athletic, Spieth has all the talent to prosper, even when his team are up against it. However, a la Raheem Sterling, there is a tendency from his national team manager to over-use him, leading to tiredness and a significant drop in performance.
AM Phil Mickelson – In a winning team he looks your best player. In a losing one he gets sulky. All the talent, but something of a luxury.
LW Sergio Garcia – A silky Spaniard on the wing for this team. Such a talent that you have to find a way to get him into the team, but it still feels like playing up alongside McIlroy isn’t his natural position.
ST Rory McIlroy – Simply the best. The man you want leading the line. If a chance comes along, you hope to God it falls to him. And he can create something out of nothing too. Even when he’s not at his best, he’ll earn you points – and when he is, the boy is unplayable.