The countdown is on.
In less than 4 weeks Team Europe and Team USA will tee it up for the 42nd Ryder Cup. 2018s edition will see Europe try to reclaim the cup they lost after a fairly convincing 17-11 defeat back in 2016.
The Ryder Cup is one of my favourite sporting events. Ever since I witnessed my first back in 1999, where the Americans rushed the green after Justin Leonard drained THAT forty foot monster, it has always been an event I have loved.
The shifts in momentum and partisan nature of the crowds make golf come alive. For drama and passion, very few events can match it.
The USA last claimed the Ryder cup on European soil in 1993, which considering the dominance of US golf is an astonishing statistic, but there is a feeling that Europe will be against it this time.
The bookies have the USA as slight favourites but I see it as a little wider. I view Europe as considerable underdogs.
A USA team consisting of, Koepka, Johnson, Thomas, Spieth, Reed, Fowler, Watson and Simpson looks Herculean on paper.
With the exception of Fowler all have won at least one major. Add in Tiger – who is a lock for a captains pick, the experience of Mickleson, the hottest player in world golf in Bryson de Chambeau plus probably Tony Finau or Xander Schaufelle and it looks a tall order.
Most predict that the USA will have up to 3 rookies whereas the Europeans could potentially field up to 5.
It could be argued that the European team is one of its strongest. Molinari, Rose, Fleetwood, Hatton, Mcilroy, Noren, Oleson and Rahm will certainly be no push overs. But it’s the captains picks that I think will ultimately decide whether Europe will be successful.
The candidates for a US captains pick (aside from Mickelson) seem to all be in relatively good form – the same can’t be said for Europe’s candidates.
Unless Bjorn has someone in mind that is completely left field (Lee Westwood seems to be the wildcard pick for many) I think the following 4 will be picked;
Some will argue that Knox, Pepperell, Pieters or Rafa Cabrera Bello should be picked for differing reasons. But I think the four I have chosen have vast Ryder Cup experience which I think with a team containing 5 rookies will be what Bjorn will opt for.
However, huge question marks remain over them all.
Stenson has been struggling with injuries and hasn’t teed it up as much as he would have liked. Will he be 100% fit?
Garcia after finally getting the monkey off his back in winning the Masters in 2017 has had a horrible year. He has missed all 4 x cuts in the majors and has been eliminated from Fed Cup playoff contention early.
Sergio brings so much to the Ryder Cup table and a Spanish pairing of Rahm and Garcia looks mouthwatering but Sergio if picked would need to find his form quickly.
After Casey declared his availability for selection, I alongside many others thought that he was a lock to make the team. He like Stenson has struggled with injuries but unlike previous years, he hasn’t been in the best of form and would arrive in Paris with a few questions to answer.
Lastly there is Poulter – the European Postman.
Poulter I think is 100% certain to make the 12 man team based on his Ryder Cup pedigree. He thrives under the pressure and has a great record. However he will have a huge target on his back and would be under pressure to perform like he has done in past Ryder Cups. To find that switch won’t be easy and if Poulter doesn’t conjure the magic, he won’t be feared.
The scary thing looking at this Ryder Cup, is that this American team contains a spine who could have decades of dominance ahead of them.
What’s even worse is that they all seem to like each other.
It has been well documented that the Europeans have always garnered a very strong team environment – see 2014 as a prime example. Whereas the European’s would spend the majority of the Ryder Cup week in each other’s pockets. You would hear tales of the Americans all arriving by there own private jets and not even sharing dinner together.
After years of European success – the Americans have started to copy the European rule book and it seems that a new pride in the team has been established. 2016 showed what a united American team could achieve.
There is a fear that the victory 2 years ago might provide the springboard to another period of dominance.
Europe will be desperate to reclaim the Ryder cup and prevent the Americans from winning on European soil.
If Europe is to go toe to toe with the Americans, Bjorn’s selections on Wednesday will go a long way to deciding how successful they can be.