Its Go Time in Paris
Now that team Captains Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn have made their final selections for their respective squads, the table is set for perhaps the most intriguing Ryder Cup in history. But will it live up to expectations? Will it be close? Vegas seems to think Team USA has the edge despite not being victorious on European soil since 1993. Not only are the rosters littered with young studs ready to make their mark on history, but there’s a few notable veterans trying to not be forgotten.
Tiger in the Spotlight
One player that will obviously never be forgotten is Tiger Woods. He makes his return to the Ryder Cup after missing the previous two. As usual, all eyes will be on his performance this year as he looks to improve on his career 13-17-3 record. He’s 4-1-2 all-time in singles matches so really it’s all about finding a guy to pair with him in the 2 vs 2 matches. Speculation is that it could be the odd swing of Bryson DeChambeau. He’s one of the hottest players on tour and Tiger seems to like him for some reason. Another player he could be paired with is a guy with 11 Top 10’s this season, Tony Finau.
Good Problem to Have?
The problem for team USA isn’t talent, they are loaded in that department. It’s who plays with who that seems to give their squad problems. The obvious pairings based on history/friendships would be Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. That leaves the aforementioned Tiger, DeChambeau, Finau and the 4th captains pick; Phil Mickelson. Like Tiger, Phil has fared better in singles play at the Ryder Cup going 8-5-1 while only being 18-20-7 in total. At Hazeltine in 2016 during the USA’s victory, Phil was paired with Fowler twice and went 1-1 and then halved his singles match with the currently struggling Sergio Garcia.
What About Us?
Team Europe doesn’t quite have the talent that the US has but let’s not count them out at all. They have some decisions to be made with pairings as well because of the amount of turnover they’ve had since 2016. They have 8 changes; Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters are all out. The 4 players returning are Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and captain’s picks Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia. The 8 new players are Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Tyrell Hatton, Thorbjorn Olesen and captains’ picks Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.
Questions, Questions, Questions
This leaves Europe some interesting choices to make. Who do they pair with Rory? How will the rookies fare? Only time will tell but I like this team. The new names are all big game players. The guys to worry about are the injured Stenson and Garcia; who hasn’t been himself since the new irons but has a 19-11-7 career record on his resume. One guy they shouldn’t have to worry about is Ian Poulter and his sparkling 12-3 record. Team Europe won’t get the media attention or the respect that the US gets but they will come to play. Vegas has the USA as a 4/6 favourite to retain the cup but I don’t see it that way on Europe’s turf.
PREDICTIONS: Europe wins 15-13 and takes the Cup back. Sergio comes back from the dead and beats Tiger in singles play. Patrick Reed loses all his matches. Noren and Molinari are paired together and go undefeated in 2 matches.