The eagerly anticipated Ryder Cup returns this weekend with reigning champions the U.S looking to finally win the tournament overseas for the first time since 1993. The setting for this week’s tournament is Le Golf National, Paris.
Team US won the 2016 tournament in convincing fashion beating team Europe 17-11 for their first win since 2008 in the competition. The event took place in Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota but with it back on European soil for 2018, Team Europe will be looking to bounce back and capture the Ryder Cup title again.
This years captain for Team Europe is Thomas Bjorn and will be accompanied by his vice captains Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood.
The top 8 players then that qualified for team Europe were Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Oleson, Jon Rahm and world No.1 Justin Rose. Joining these 8 players will then be the captains picks of Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poultar and Henrik Stenson to make up the European Ryder Cup Team.
Starting first with McIlroy and Rose as these two will be expected to lead by example and put on a performance for the Europeans. Rose has had a stellar year which left him as the worlds No.1 and winner of the FedEx Cup. McIlroy has had his ups and downs but performed consistently throughout the year with solid finishes in the majority of the majors. We will be hoping the Ryder Cup is exactly what is needED to ignite his form from a few years ago.
Casey, Garcia, Poulter and Stenson all have an abundance of experience at the Ryder Cup and is one of the main reason they were all chosen as part of the team. Their form has been lacking however all year long which is why it was left to the captains pick for them to be chosen.
Noren and Oleson have been very impressive on the European Tour this year and may come as a surprise to the American viewers if they perform close to their capabilities into the weekend. Tyrell Hatton has shown glimpses this year of fine form whereas Molinari has had this best year of his career. Winning The Open championship to become the first Italian to win a major illustrated to the world what he is capable of.
Finally Ryder Cup rookies Rahm and Fleetwood will be hoping for a debut to remember and there has been no evidence that it shouldn’t be. The two have had incredible performances throughout the year on both the European and PGA Tour and will be looking to make their mark for Team Europe this week.
Team US are captained for 2018 by Jim Furyk and is to be accompanied by his vice captains David Duval, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
The 8 players that automatically qualified for the US team then were Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson. The remaining 4 captains picks were filled by Bryson Dechambeau, Tony Finau, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods fresh off his victory at the Tour Championship last weekend. On paper, this is somewhat of a dream team for the US with 11 of their 12 players occupying spaces in the worlds top 17.
All over the U.S team you have established players, leaders and major winners. In 2018 alone, 3/4 of the majors were captured by American men with Koepka taking two of the honors and Patrick Reed earning his green jacket. Koepka has been sensational this year retaining his US Open title and adding another Major to his yearly tally at the PGA Championship. Reed seems to relish hostile atmospheres as his duel with McIlroy in 2016 was one to remember. Fresh of his first major win earlier this year, he will be nothing short of confident heading into the Ryder Cup.
Simpson, Watson and Fowler have had a very consistent year with high finishes week in and week out to earn them spots on this team. No stranger to the event either and will be hoping to finally earn that elusive victory on the oppositions soil. Spieth hasn’t quite lived up to his previous seasons but that is just compared to his own ridiculous standards. He will be hoping to rectify that this week and get a another Ryder Cup under his belt. Johnson and Thomas traded the world No.1 spot earlier in the year albeit for a short time but both have been performing to a very high standard and will be looked at to be the main scorers for the U.S.
Deschambeau hit form late in the year with consecutive wins on tour making it very hard for his captain to leave him off the team. Tony Finau has shown glimpses of real quality all year round and could be a very solid player for the team come Sunday. The familiar faces of Mickelson and Woods make up the rest of the team. Woods has made a climb up the rankings like no other this year and finally capturing that elusive title at East Lake seems to have reinvigorated both himself and the golfing world.
On paper it is very hard to look past this American Team. There is an abundance of class all over it mixed with decades of experience. Luckily for us, golf isn’t played on paper and it is up to the European team to put in a performance worthy of taking back the Ryder Cup. Friday will be a massive day for both teams as they will be both looking to get the lead going into the weekend. If it is tight come Sunday you will have to favor the Europeans being on home-ground and the fact the U.S haven’t won here in over 25 years may play a bit on their minds.