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Ryder Cup 2018 preview: How do Team Europe and the USA compare?

Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn has told the golfing world to stand by for the greatest Ryder Cup ever, as Paris plays host to arguably the strongest field in the tournament’s history.

Jim Furyk’s star-studded American team features 11 of the world’s top 20 golfers, six of the last seven major winners and a combined 31 major titles, with a resurgent Tiger Woods among them.

This is one of the strongest American teams in Ryder Cup history

This is one of the strongest American teams in Ryder Cup history

The greatest golfer of all time is back after completing one of sport’s most remarkable comebacks at the Tour Championship on Sunday, and he’ll be desperate to fix his absurdly dismal Ryder Cup record.

The Americans’ hopes of winning on foreign soil have never been stronger, although Europe, unbeaten in 25 years on their own turf, will rely heavily on that home advantage to regain the trophy.

The Europeans have an almighty task on their hands

The Europeans have an almighty task on their hands

World number two Justin Rose and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy spearhead a squad with five rookies and six players ranked outside the top 20.

Bjorn is right to predict a spectacle, as for the first time in the biennial event’s history, all of the top ten players in the world will feature.

Throw in the Tiger-factor, Europe’s underdog status, and the most electric atmosphere in golf – and the stage is set for a classic.

EUROPE BY WORLD RANKING

  1. Justin Rose (2)
  2. Francesco Molinari (5)
  3. Rory McIlroy (6)
  4. Jon Rahm (8)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (12)
  6. Alex Noren (18)
  7. Paul Casey (21)
  8. Henrik Stenson (24)
  9. Tyrrell Hatton (26)
  10. Sergio Garcia (28)
  11. Ian Poulter (34)
  12. Thorbjorn Olesen (45)

UNITED STATES BY WORLD RANKING

  1. Dustin Johnson (1)
  2. Brooks Koepka (3)
  3. Justin Thomas (4)
  4. Bryson DeChambeau (7)
  5. Rickie Fowler (9)
  6. Jordan Spieth (10)
  7. Tiger Woods (13)
  8. Bubba Watson (14)
  9. Patrick Reed (15)
  10. Webb Simpson (16)
  11. Tony Finau (17)
  12. Phil Mickelson (25)

Major winners and recent form

Francesco Molinari was this year’s only non-American major winner. He became the first Italian to win one of golf’s big four at The Open in July.

But golf has been dominated by the United States in the two years since their resounding Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine. Big-hitting Brooks Koepka boasts half of this year’s majors with the US Open and the PGA Championship, while Patrick Reed is the reigning Masters champion.

Koepka won two of the four majors this year

Koepka won two of the four majors this year

American rookies Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas secured the most PGA Tour victories this season with three each, although England’s Rose captured the FedEx Cup – a symbol of his consistency all year.

Dustin Johnson, who registered a ridiculous 430-yard drive this year, recently returned to world number one after Rose’s brief stint at the top.

Rose sealed his FedEx Cup victory last weekend

Rose sealed his FedEx Cup victory last weekend

While the Americans have the most recent winner in Woods, the bottom of the Tour Championship leaderboard was dominated by Furyk’s men on Sunday. Koepka, Bubba Watson, Reed and Phil Mickelson all struggled desperately for form.

Le Golf National

For only the second time in Ryder Cup history, the European home match will be staged outside Britain and Ireland, as France gets its turn to put on a show.

The scene is set

The scene is set

The Americans may boast the stronger team, but Europe will take great comfort in their record at the French Open venue.

Americans Koepka and Watson have both missed cuts playing here, while Europeans Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood have tasted victory at Le Golf National.

In fact, Tyrrell Hatton is the only European team member not to record a top-ten finish on the course.

Rookies vs veterans

Garcia insists he has nothing to prove

Garcia insists he has nothing to prove

Sergio Garcia is Europe’s Ryder Cup veteran, with eight appearances and 22-and-a-half points, although he travels to Paris on the back of his worst ever season and required a controversial wildcard to make the team.

He needs three points to overtake Sir Nick Faldo as Europe’s all-time leading points scorer at the biennial event.

Ian Poulter, Europe’s postman, is unbeaten in Ryder Cup singles and experienced something of a career renaissance this year, completing his climb from world number 179 in 2016 to 34 by the end of the season.

Poulter always delivers at the Ryder Cup

Poulter always delivers at the Ryder Cup

He is one of six Europeans over the age of 35 alongside Rose, Molinari, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Garcia.

It is hoped their experience will balance off the five European newcomers: Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Tyrell Hatton and Fleetwood.

On the other side, the American rookies are three of the world’s best: DeChambeau, Thomas and Tony Finau.

Woods will be desperate to set the record straight

Woods will be desperate to set the record straight

Their over-35 players, Woods, Mickelson and Watson, are pretty decent too.

Mickelson is set to break the Ryder Cup appearances record, surpassing Faldo’s 12, but neither he nor Woods have ever been on the winning side in Europe.

Tiger’s Ryder Cup record is one of sport’s great conundrums. The legendary talent has won 13, lost 17 and halved three matches. However, only one of those 17 defeats has come in the singles.

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