The 42nd Ryder Cup is almost here. With matches set to begin any day now, the United States remains a clear and healthy favorite as the teams convene in Paris at Le Golf National. And guess what? The Americans deserve the love in this case. Think about it this way: The U.S. is loaded with a team whose captain’s picks — just the captain’s picks — include winners of three of the four FedEx Cup playoff events, three of the top six in the FedEx Cup standings and two of the 10 best golfers in history.
All 12 U.S. golfers are ranked in the top 25 in the Official World Golf Rankings, which is pretty incredible, and the European side isn’t lacking much in the way of star power, either. In fact, for the first time ever all 10 of the top 10 golfers on the planet will compete in the same Ryder Cup.
It’s certain now, this year’s #RyderCup will be the first when ALL the top 10 players in the world ranking will be competing. #OWGR
— Nosferatu (@VC606) September 23, 2018
So will the U.S. team break its curse on European soil and win for the first time in 25 years? Or will the European side continue what has been a dominant stretch of six Ryder Cup victories in the last eight opportunities? Let’s take a look at the two teams and see how both are playing coming into Paris.
United States team
Ryder Cup 2018 United States TeamGolferOWGRAppearancesLastRecord
This team is outrageously complete. It has talent, youth, experience, length, putters and gamers. The combinations you can come up with for pairings are borderline innumerable to the point that you could draw two names randomly out of a hat and come up with a twosome that makes a lot of sense. A few other takeaways here:
- Koepka is a wild card for me. He went 3-1-0 at Hazeltine and won two majors this season alone, so I should have more confidence in him than I do. I’m just not totally sure what I’m getting in any given round.
- I’ll be interested to see what they do with Mickelson. He played terribly at East Lake, and he probably doesn’t have the energy to go more than three matches in this environment. I expect him and Tiger to be on roughly the same three-match schedule.
- How is Tiger’s Ryder Cup record that bad?!
- I really like Simpson and Finau to play well this week. Both are coming in with a ton of confidence and had arguably the best one- and zero-win seasons respectively of anyone on the PGA Tour.
Ryder Cup 2018 European TeamPlayerOWGRAppearancesLastRecord
Five rookies has to be a little disconcerting for captain Thomas Bjorn, although Rahm and Fleetwood are total studs, and Noren, Hatton and Olesen can be great in the right spots. Here are a few more takeaways from this squad.
- As usual, the stallions will have to carry Europe. There’s a zero percent chance McIlroy and Rose play fewer than 10 combined matches, and they’ll need a ton of points out of that pair.
- Garcia is a massive wild card here for the Europeans. He’s been dreadful all season, but he’s arguably the greatest Ryder Cup golfer of all time. If he snags, say, three points for Europe, that’s going to be very bad for the U.S.
- Casey, Poulter and Molinari represent a really interesting group of older players who all missed the 2016 matches for a variety of reasons. They’re seasoned, but it’s been a while for all of them. None of them come in playing their best golf of the year, but they won’t be bug-eyed all week like Olesen, Noren and the rooks will. That’s important. I’m not sure it will be enough, but it will help ground a European team that threatens to become unmoored if the top U.S. players start feeling it a little bit.