The European Ryder Cup team is set, however, the U.S. squad has yet to be finalized, but already the Americans are favored to retain the cup they won two years ago at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn., where they triumphed easily, 17-11. That result ended a U.S. drought stretching back to 2008 at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club near Louisville, Ky.
The 42nd Ryder Cup is Sept. 28-30 at the Albatros Course in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Paris, France. The U.S. team is a slight -140 favorite to the Europeans’ betting odds of +110, according a recent internet story. This factors in, presumably, that the Europeans haven’t lost on home soil since 1993 when the U.S. team captained by Tom Watson triumphed at The Belfry, in England.
Jim Furyk is captain of the 2018 American team. Like Watson, he is a past winner of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. Other past U.S. captains to win at Muirfield Village Golf Club include Paul Azinger, the winning captain in ’08, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, Ray Floyd, Curtis Strange and Memorial Tournament Founder and Host Jack Nicklaus. Fred Couples and five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods have served as Ryder Cup vice captains in the past.
Woods was scheduled to be a vice captain for Furyk but was selected to be one of Furyk’s wild-card picks on Sept. 4 along with 2018 Memorial winner and current leader in the race for the FedExCup title Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson. They’ll join a group of automatic qualifiers that is an impressive list: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson.
Furyk will fill out his 12-man team with one last pick on Sept. 10 following the BMW Championship, the third of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs. Players in the running for the final spot include 2013 Memorial winner Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, the 2017 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Kevin Kisner and Brandt Snedeker, who recently shot 59 on the way to winning the Wyndham Championship.
Thomas Bjorn, captain of Team Europe, counters with Justin Rose, who won the 2010 Memorial Tournament, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen. Bjorn added Sergio Garcia, who won the 2017 Masters, along with former Open champion Henrik Stenson Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, as wild-card selections on Sept. 5.
Americans won three of the majors in 2018 as Koepka won the PGA Championship and successfully defended his U.S. Open title, while Reed captured the Masters. Italy’s Molinari claimed The Open Championship. Furthermore, the U.S. currently has the top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking in Johnson, Koepka and Thomas, respectively, and five of the top 10 that includes No. 8 Fowler and No. 9 Spieth. Rose, Rahm, Molinari and McIlroy are ranked Nos. 4-7, respectively.
It appears that it’s going to be another battle to the finish between evenly talented teams.
The U.S. leads the series 26-13 with two matches ending in a tie. But since Europe was added in 1979 - at the behest of Nicklaus following another easy American victory - America has eight wins while Europe has won 10 times.