Team Europe vs Team USA: Who has the edge heading into Ryder Cup?

The Ryder Cup heads to Le Golf National in Paris this week, with a much-discussed showdown by a revitalized American team, led by a red hot Tiger Woods, who is fresh off his TOUR Championship victory, squaring off against a European team with World No. 1 and 2018 FedExCup winner Justin Rose. With the Americans only winning three of the last 10 Ryder Cups, there’s a lot pressure for Captain Jim Furyk’s squad to perform well in France.

Here’s an overview of both teams.

Team USA

Davis Love III celebrates with Jim Furyk during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Ryder Cup. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Captain: Jim Furyk

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

Players: Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson

Captain’s Picks: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau

Team Europe

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose of Europe look on during morning foursome matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Captain: Thomas Bjorn

Vice-Captains: Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Grame McDowell, Lee Westwood

Players: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thobjørn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose

Captain’s Picks: Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson

United States and European fans cheer on the first tee during the 2016 Ryder Cup. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

There are plenty of big hitters on both sides—the Europeans have Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy—while the U.S. side is filled with big-hitters Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, and captain’s pick Tony Finau. Hard to imagine this won’t benefit the Americans, but often Ryder Cup courses are setup for the home team. Will the Europeans take advantage of the disparity?

The Europeans are led by Rose, who just moved won the FedExCup into the World No. 1 spot, while the U.S. counters with Brooks Koepka, winner of two major championships this year.

Four of the Top 10 players in the world are from Europe, but on paper the Americans would seem to have the edge, with six players in the Top 10.

Question marks:

  • Last year, Sergio Garcia won his first major. Then he got married, had a baby, and his game disappeared. Questions were raised about whether Garcia would even be picked for the European team, but the Spaniard’s past success in eight Ryder Cups overwrote any doubts about his current form.
  • Rory McIlroy has all the elements to be a dominant Ryder Cup participant—with a 9-6-4 record, he’s already demonstrated he has what it takes to win. One of the longest hitters on the planet, McIlroy’s short game can raise questions. His putting could be an issue under pressure down the stretch.
  • Do you make captain’s picks based on past or current performance? In the case of Captain Thomas Bjorn, the past was clearly the main deciding factor, and he picked Garcia, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter. Poulter hasn’t played particularly well since winning earlier in the year, Garcia, as mentioned, has struggled, and Stenson hasn’t been as reliable as in the past. A mistake?
  • Jordan Spieth has struggled with his putter all year. In past years, Spieth, who seems to have an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion in big events, would be a strength for the Americans. Could he be a liability this time?
  • Phil Mickelson has played in 11 Ryder Cups, and has a far from stunning record of 18-20-7. At 48, this is likely his last Ryder Cup as a player (a captaincy isn’t likely far behind, despite his famed coup against previous captain Tom Watson), and he’s not had an outstanding year. He was a captain’s pick based on past, not present, performance.
  • Tiger Woods has a career Ryder Cup record of 13-17-3, which is unfathomable considering how good he was while playing on many of those teams. But there was no way Furyk would leave him off the roster. Evidently, he made the right decision, as Tiger, who just picked up his first win in more then five years, is looking more confident then we have seen in a long time.
  • Rumours are swirling over a possible split between former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and his fiancé, Paulina Gretzky. Will it impact Johnson’s play on the course?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “Team Europe vs Team USA: Who has the edge heading into Ryder Cup?”

  1. USA all the way Baby!!! I would leave Phil off the card until maybe Saturday morning, he was horrible in the Tour Championship.