The First Look: Ryder Cup
September 21, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- September 21, 2018
Inside the PGA TOUR
2018 Ryder Cup preview
The United States seeks its first back-to-back Ryder Cup victories since 1993 – as well as end a quarter-century of misery on European soil – when Jim Furyk’s squad comes to the Paris outskirts for the event’s 42nd edition.
Le Golf National becomes just the second Ryder Cup venue on continental Europe, as FedExCup champion Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and the dynamic Ian Poulter headline a home team split almost evenly between rookies and old-guard mainstays.
U.S. ROSTER: Bryson DeChambeau (1st Ryder Cup), Tony Finau (1st), Rickie Fowler (4th), Dustin Johnson (4th), Brooks Koepka (2nd), Phil Mickelson (12th), Patrick Reed (3rd), Webb Simpson (3rd), Jordan Spieth (3rd), Justin Thomas (1st), Bubba Watson (4th), Tiger Woods (8th). Captain: Jim Furyk.
EUROPE ROSTER: Paul Casey, England (4th Ryder Cup); Tommy Fleetwood, England (1st); Sergio Garcia, Spain (9th); Tyrrell Hatton, England (1st); Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland (5th); Francesco Molinari, Italy (3rd); Alex Noren, Sweden (1st); Thorbjorn Olesen, Denmark (1st); Ian Poulter, England (6th); Jon Rahm, Spain (1st); Justin Rose, England (5th); Henrik Stenson, Sweden (5th). Captain: Thomas Bjorn, Denmark.
SERIES: United States leads, 26-13-2. However, Europe holds a 10-8-1 edge since the old Great Britain & Ireland squad was expanded to include the entire continent.
STORYLINES: Furyk’s squad carries its best prospects of a U.S. road win in at least a decade. America’s last win in Europe came in 1993 at The Belfry, when a Sunday singles rally produced a 15-13 triumph. … Woods, healthy at last at coming off a win at the TOUR Championship, tees it up in a Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012 at Medinah. He hasn’t played on a Ryder Cup winner since 1999, having missed the 2008 and ’16 victories with injury. … The U.S. owns a three-year winning streak in team match play, sandwiching 2015 and ’17 Presidents Cup victories around the last Ryder Cup. … Europe features five Ryder Cup newcomers in Paris, two years after six rookies took part at Hazeltine. Little wonder that Bjorn chose all veterans for his captain’s picks – Poulter, Casey, Stenson and Garcia. … Rose takes Europe’s lead role after a year that’s produced multiple victories and the FedExCup. … Europe also welcomes Poulter back after missing him in 2016. The English pro owns a 72.2 winning percentage in Ryder Cup play (12-4-2), best ever for a European with more than five matches. … Mickelson, 48, needs two points to match Billy Casper for most in U.S. history (23 1/2). On the flip side, one more loss will break a tie with Furyk (20) for most by an American.
COURSE: Le Golf National (Albatros), 7,234 yards, par 71. The hub of French golf for nearly three decades, Le Golf National opened in 1990 as the new home of the Open de France and a training center for France’s national teams. Designed by Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge, the Albatros features water as its primary defense with 10 of 18 holes posing water risks. That includes the closing four-hole “Loop of Doom,” where the 15th, 16th and 18th greens are all closely guarded by water. At this year’s Open, Julian Suri took a one-shot lead to No. 18 but left with a watery double bogey as Noren won. The first tee will feature a massive grandstand seating some 6,500 patrons – more than the first-tee stands at Hazeltine (2016), Gleneagles (2014) and Medinah (2012) combined.
TWO YEARS AGO: A balanced U.S. squad took back the Ryder Cup for just the second time this century, riding an opening-session sweep to a 17-11 triumph at Hazeltine. The Americans never trailed after busting out a 4-0 lead in Friday morning’s foursomes, the first time they’d swept any session since 1981. Europe did close within a point by midday Saturday, but the tandem of Reed/Spieth sparked an afternoon surge that stretched the U.S. lead back to three ahead of Sunday singles. Every American contributed, with Reed, Koepka and Brandt Snedeker leading the way with three wins each. Four European players failed to produce even a half-point, including veteran Lee Westwood. Victory provided some validation for the U.S. “task force” that emerged from its 2014 loss at Gleneagles, developing a framework for continuity from year to year, and gave captain Davis Love III a glint of redemption after Europe’s stunning 2012 comeback. It also came days after the passing of Arnold Palmer, whose golf bag from the 1975 Ryder Cup was a weeklong presence on Hazeltine’s first tee.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Friday, 2 a.m.-1 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2-3 a.m. ET (Golf Channel), 3 a.m.-1 p.m. ET (NBC). Sunday, 6 a.m.-1 p.m. (NBC).
PGA TOUR LIVE: None.
RADIO: Friday-Saturday, 2 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sunday, 4 a.m.-1 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).