Ryder Cup predictions: Our experts' verdicts - from which team will win to most likely flashpoint

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Ryder Cup 2021 predictions: Our experts' verdicts - from which team will win to most likely flashpoint - GETTY IMAGES
Ryder Cup 2021 predictions: Our experts' verdicts - from which team will win to most likely flashpoint - GETTY IMAGES

Ahead of the 2021 Ryder Cup, four of our Telegraph Sport writers have shared their predictions on this year's event - including the singles contest they would most like to see, which team will win (and by how much), as well as their picks for leading points scorer and top rookie.

James Corrigan

Who will win - and by what margin?
USA 15-13. Expect the visitors to put up a brave fight and if the wind obliges they will have a serious chance. But this American team seems so full of talent and exuberance that it would be a shock if they crumble in the manner of Stars and Stripes past. No Tiger and Mickelson playing for the first time in 28 years. That is a positive.

Leading points scorer
Jordan Spieth. Stricker might not play any of his team in five sessions, but if he does expect him to ride the Spieth-Thomas pairing to the line. Could prove to be one of the great pairings. And then it would the flick of the coin about which of “Jordmas” has the energy for their singles. Spieth seems pumped.

Leading rookie
Viktor Hovland. At 24 the Norwegian is the youngest player in the match - and he is the smiliest as well. Would be no surprise to see Harrington play Hovland in all five matches. Has the class to be a Europe legend.

Most likely flashpoint
The US fans will start drinking at 7.30am and then proceed to heckle and abuse for the next 10 hours. Europe insist they will not react, but at some stage someone will surely snap back at the morons.

Singles match I would like to see...
As we are not allowed Bryson vs Brooks, or Bryson vs Cantlay, it would be wonderful to see Bryson vs Rahm, the game’s most controversial player against its best player.

Oliver Brown

Who will win – and by what margin?
US, by four points. The Americans’ statistical superiority has been deceptive before, but there is no downplaying the advantage of a team with eight of the world’s top 10 in their corner. If Steve Stricker, a shrewd diplomat as captain, can somehow keep Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau on speaking terms, his huge-hitting superstars should ensure a decisive victory on a course that rewards distance.

Leading rookie
Xander Schauffele. As the Olympic champion, with nine top-10 finishes in majors, the 27-year-old hardly has the record of a callow debutant. His laconic temperament equips him to flourish even under oppressive expectation.

Xander Schauffele won Olympic gold in Tokyo - SHUTTERSTOCK
Xander Schauffele won Olympic gold in Tokyo - SHUTTERSTOCK

Leading points scorer
Dustin Johnson. He might not be golf’s greatest thinker – “my answers won’t be that long,” he warned at his press conference – but if the world No 2 combines iron-play accuracy with his usual bludgeoning power off the tee, he could prove irresistible.

Most likely flashpoint
Saturday fourballs. Intoxicated Saturday crowds at US Ryder Cups tend to be the most boisterous of the week, with the atmosphere at Hazeltine and Medinah teetering on the verge of ugliness. European players could face a torrid afternoon.

Singles match I would like to see...
Rory McIlroy vs Brooks Koepka. The two are close friends off the course but polar opposites as Ryder Cup combatants. Where Koepka admits to being left cold by the contest, McIlroy morphs into a fist-pumping whirlwind in Europe colours.

Simon Briggs

Who will win and by what margin?
USA 15.5-12.5. Forget the “Bomb squad” of South African rugby. The huge driving distance of Team USA’s bombers, notably Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, will allow them to shave too many corners and too many shots for the Europeans to match. Collegiate spirit will keep the underdogs in the contest until Sunday afternoon, but in the end home advantage will tell. Again.

Leading points scorer
Jon Rahm. The world No 1 is almost guaranteed to play every match and looks poised to follow in the great tradition of Spanish Ryder Cup giants, building on the legacy of Ballesteros, Olazabal and Garcia.

European hopes could depend on the form of world No 1 Jon Rahm - GETTY IMAGES
European hopes could depend on the form of world No 1 Jon Rahm - GETTY IMAGES

Leading rookie
Patrick Cantlay. The PGA Tour player of the year, 29-year-old Cantlay recently beat DeChambeau in a play-off for the BMW Championship. Has no holes in his game.

Most likely flashpoint
Sergio Garcia to hurl his club after a “patron” – a euphemism in this case for moron – shouts “Mashed potato!” as he is just completing his backswing.

Singles match I would like to see...
Ian Poulter vs Dustin Johnson. Europe’s “Postman” – so called because he always delivers – is the shortest hitter on show, but he has the street smarts to outwit the human siege guns and repeat his Parisian upset of Johnson.

Daniel Zeqiri

Who will win - and by what margin?
USA by four points. Relying on the world rankings can be a fool's errand in a team matchplay event, but this is one of the strongest USA teams ever assembled. It takes an exceptional performance to win away - just two of the last 11 Ryder Cups have gone to the visitors - and Europe have a significant deficit of form, power and reliable putting to make up. They will be competitive, but it will prove too much.

Leading points scorer
Tony Finau. A solid, generous character who would benefit any team and finally notched up a tournament victory in the FedEx Cup play-offs. Ball-striking is beyond reproach, and one of few Americans to emerge from his debut in Paris with credit.

Leading rookie
Patrick Cantlay. Norwegian Viktor Hovland is a contender, but Cantlay finished the season like a train and has the consistency to thrive in both fourtballs and foursomes. A cool head and major champion in waiting.

Most likely flashpoint
Potential Koepka-DeChambeau pairing. Watch out for snapped clubs and four-letter words with Tyrrell Hatton around, but if Steve Stricker pairs sworn enemies Koepka and DeChambeau together it could set Whistling Straits alight.

Singles match I would like to see...
Rory McIlroy vs Jordan Spieth. The two players who were predicted to dominate the sport. It has not quite turned out that way, but their best golf remains of the highest calibre and a delicious contrast in styles. Both have an endearing hint of vulnerability.

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