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Team Europe Aim For Ryder Cup Redemption In Paris This Weekend

September 26, 2018

Four years ago, after their third Ryder Cup defeat in a row at Gleneagles in Scotland, Team USA member Phil Mickelson famously and publicly called for an overhaul of how the USA team is selected and captained. Mickelson’s comments at the time were controversial, as they essentially hung their captain Tom Watson out to dry, but they also instigated a review of how Team USA operates.

Two years following that, and after a series of top-level meetings between the top brass at the USPGA, a new and unified Team USA, captained by Davis Love III, ended their string of defeats to Europe with a comprehensive 17-11 victory over Team Europe at Hazeldine in what was the American’s best Ryder Cup performance for many years.

However, Team USA has failed to win a Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993 at the Belfry, when Tom Watson’s team emerged with a narrow victory over Bernhard Gallacher’s men. Since then, every European trip has ended in defeat for a succession of American teams and their captains.

So the question is, can this American team buck that trend and defeat Europe on home soil, or will the European team, led by popular Danish golfer Thomas Bjorn, bounce back to winning ways and produce a performance for the ages to reclaim the trophy on Parisian soil?

Let’s take a look at both teams and how they will line up for the tournament.

Team USA

Captain – Jim Furyk

The likeable skipper, famed for his unorthodox golf swing, has extensive Ryder Cup experience with nine appearances in the tournament as a player, second only to Phil Mickelson. A 17-time winner on the PGA Tour, he became the first ever player to shoot 58 on the PGA Tour when he shot the score in the final round of the Travelers Championship in 2016. He appeared as a player at every Ryder Cup from 1997 to 2014 and makes his return as the US team captain in 2018.

Vice Captains – David Duval, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III

Team (in order of Ryder Cup appearances prior to 2018)

Captain’s picks are shown with a (C) and Rookies are in italics – Current World Ranking in (brackets)

  • Phil Mickelson (C) – 11 appearances – (25)
  • Tiger Woods (C) – 7 appearances – (13)
  • Dustin Johnson – 3 appearances – (1)
  • Bubba Watson – 3 appearances – (14)
  • Rickie Fowler – 3 appearances – (9)
  • Patrick Reed – 2 appearances – (15)
  • Webb Simpson – 2 appearances – (16)
  • Jordan Spieth – 2 appearances – (10)
  • Brooks Koepka – 1 appearance – (3)
  • Tony Finau (C) – 0 appearances- (17)
  • Bryson DeChambeau (C) – 0 appearances – (7)
  • Justin Thomas – 0 appearances – (4)

This is a stunningly talented team with just one player ranked outside the world’s top 17 and that player being the genius Phil Mickelson, the most experienced Ryder Cup player in history. Add to that Tiger Woods’ return to form and the team as a player and a host of outstanding youngsters, and you can see why this Team USA squad is being rated by many as the best to ever represent the country at the Ryder Cup.

Team Europe

Captain – Thomas Bjorn

Bjorn was the European Ryder Cup committee’s unanimous selection to lead the team in France this year and he has extensive experience playing in three Ryder Cup tournaments as a player (winning all three) and then appearing as a vice captain in four (winning three, with just one defeat). He has won 15 titles in his career on the European Tour, the last coming back in 2014.

Vice Captains – Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood

Team (in order of Ryder Cup appearances prior to 2018)

Captain’s picks are shown with a (C) and Rookies are in italics – Current World Ranking in (brackets)

  • Sergio Garcia (C) – 8 appearances – (28)
  • Ian Poulter (C) – 5 appearances – (34)
  • Henrik Stenson (C) – 4 appearances – (24)
  • Rory McIlroy – 4 appearances – (6)
  • Justin Rose – 4 appearances – (2)
  • Paul Casey (C) – 3 appearances – (21)
  • Francesco Molinari – 2 appearances – (5)
  • Jon Rahm – 0 appearances – (8)
  • Tyrell Hatton – 0 appearances – (26)
  • Thorbjorn Olesen – 0 appearances – (45)
  • Alex Noren – 0 appearances – (18)
  • Tommy Fleetwood – 0 appearances – (12)

Although perhaps not as strong in terms of depth as the USA team, this is still an excellent European squad. Two rookies, Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm have been impressive this season, while Ian Poulter’s inclusion adds real Ryder Cup pedigree to the team. Sergio Garcia’s form at the moment is a bit of a worry but the Spaniard has a proven track record of playing well in this event and it is easy to see why he was one of Bjorn’s captain’s selections.

The Course

Albatros Course at Le Golf National

  • 1st Hole – 416 Yard (par 4)
  • 2nd Hole – 213 Yard (par 3)
  • 3rd Hole – 563 Yard (par 5)
  • 4th Hole – 487 Yard (par 4)
  • 5th Hole – 405 Yard (par 4)
  • 6th Hole – 383 Yard (par 4)
  • 7th Hole – 481 Yard (par 4)
  • 8th Hole – 208 Yard (par 3)
  • 9th Hole – 596 Yard (par 5)

Out – 3752 yards (Par 36)

  • 10th Hole – 383 Yard (par 4)
  • 11th Hole – 191 Yard (par 3)
  • 12th Hole – 443 Yard (par 4)
  • 13th Hole – 427 Yard (par 4)
  • 14th Hole – 607 Yard (par 5)
  • 15th Hole – 399 Yard (par 4)
  • 16th Hole – 175 Yard (par 3)
  • 17th Hole – 484 Yard (par 4)
  • 18th Hole – 470 Yard (par 4)

In – 3579 Yards (Par 35)

Total Yards – 7331 (par 71)

Tournament Format

  • Friday 28th September – AM – 4x Foursomes, PM – 4x Fourballs
  • Saturday 29th September – AM – 4x Foursome, PM – 4x Fourballs
  • Sunday 30th September – PM – 12x Singles Games

All types of matches across the three days are played over 18-hole matchplay. The first team to reach 14.5 points will win the Ryder Cup. Team USA, as the defending champions, will retain the trophy if they manage to tie the tournament 14-14.

How do we see the Ryder Cup being won?

Traditionally, especially in Europe, Team Europe has tended to be the stronger team on the opening two days of action and then has tried to hang on to that advantage, mostly successfully, in the final day of singles games, where the American team has traditionally been the stronger of the two teams.

In truth, I can see a similar pattern evolving in this week’s tournament, but I do feel that Team Europe won’t head into Sunday with too great an advantage, with the difference between the teams likely to be just a point or even less.

If that is the case, then I think Team USA will close out the win on the Sunday in the singles as I feel they are a much stronger team man-for-man than the European squad. Of course, in the past players have raised their game to defeat much more illustrious opponents, but this American team looks so talented and so strong that I feel this may be their first win in Europe for many years.

As such, I am backing Team USA for the win here at 5/6 with bet365 Sport.

About Ian John

Ian John
Working my way though the UK's top online poker sites (and some of the ones near the bottom as well) to bring you a first-hand take on the absolute best choices for online poker players from the UK.