For European players and supporters alike, it’s been an agonising wait for the 42nd chapter of the Ryder Cup. On home soil, in front of passionate fans, Europe will seek revenge for the 2016 loss when they take to Le Golf National. Captains Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk have plenty of talent at their disposal this week:
Team Europe, in theory, is a good bet. Europe has installed a winning mentality that has been maintained by the current crop of stars; they have won eight of the last 11. Also, they are unbeaten at home since 1993, so none of the current team has ever lost a home Ryder Cup. The question is, why do so many fancy the American’s chances?
The Europeans will have superior knowledge of the course. Of the 12 members of Team USA, only Justin Thomas chose to come over and play the French Open at this week’s venue, Le Golf National. The last two champions of the French Open are European players; they will have good memories of the course and knowledge they can share with their team.
Don’t let the US favourite tag deter you from supporting the Europeans. As previously highlighted, Europe is unbeaten at home since 1993. Furthermore, on five of the last seven occasions that Team USA were favourites, they were undone by the Europeans. The one thing that worries me slightly about Europe is, do they have the strength in depth to win? How will the Rookies cope with the biggest week of their golfing lives? Can they keep the talented Americans at bay?
In a Ryder Cup, emotions run very high. It makes for electrifying viewing. The course is a reasonably exposed track, with weather conditions determining the severity of the course. The rough is very penal at Le Golf National, and with undulating fairways, this produces a very demanding test of golf. After the par five 14th, the players face a treacherous finish; the remaining holes all average over par. Holes 15, 16 and 18 have water in play; matches that go the distance will create dramatic finishes.
Frankly, picking an overall Top Points scorer is a bit of a lottery. Very few would have predicted Thomas Pieters would have earnt the most points on US soil in 2016. However, if you are keen to back an overall top points scorer, I would choose a European who could feature in all five sessions. Historically, the US team have more talent at their disposal; this year is no exception, and the rankings reflect that. This means that Jim Furyk is likely to try more pairings out to blood his team before singles Sunday. Therefore, American players could have fewer matches to win points.
However, there is undoubtedly more skill in picking a Team Points Scorer. Pick players you think could play all five sessions, players that enter this week in form and players that have course experience/Ryder Cup pedigree. For example, Fleetwood, Noren and Molinari all have outstanding records at Le Golf National for the Europeans.
I will be backing Molinari for Top European Points Scorer and Brooks Koepka to be Top USA Points Scorer. The rationale is that Molinari is in the form of his life and extremely motivated to improve his Ryder Cup record. Le Golf National course set up is tailor-made for the Italian’s pinpoint accuracy and consistency. He is also a certainty to tee it up in the morning foursomes on Friday.
Brooks Koepka admits he finds it hard to get up for golf tournaments excluding the Majors. The Ryder Cup eclipses the Majors regarding the daily drama, the crowd involvement, and the passion of patriotic Americans, Europeans and their fans. The influential American is likely to pair up with training partner and world No.1 Dustin Johnson; don’t be surprised if Brooks racks up the points this week.
To help you with all your bets this week we have given an overview of each player in the Ryder Cup.