2018 Ryder Cup Captains
The role of a Ryder Cup captain is a uniquely significant one in the world of sport. The men picked to lead the teams from Europe and the United States will get just one shot to etch their name into golf’s hall of fame.
The fine margins separating winning and losing can mean the difference between being hailed as a great tactician and leader, or being condemned forever as an incompetent weakling. The stakes for American captain Jim Furyk and his European counterpart Thomas Bjørn have never been higher than they will be at the Ryder Cup 2018.
It’s 25 years since an American led a Ryder Cup team to victory in Europe, but golf fans in the States have a growing confidence in their captain for this year’s tournament in Paris. Meanwhile, Thomas Bjørn knows what the continent expects given that the Europeans have won seven of the last 10 Ryder Cups.
So what strengths will the captains bring to their teams? Who has the best chance of emerging victorious? Who is the Ryder Cup 2018 favourite? And what does it take to lead an ensemble of big names to the greatest prize in golf?
Team USA Captain – Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk turned professional over a quarter of a century ago and has become well-known for his longevity, drive and determination. There are few pros with as much Ryder Cup experience as the 48-year-old and his congenial, professional approach to golf will earn him respect as a team captain.
Furyk’s business-like persona has softened somewhat in recent years. The 2003 US Open champion has endeared himself to golf fans with near-misses in big tournaments and some health problems which threatened his career.
Having played in nine Ryder Cups, captains don’t come much more experienced than Furyk. That knowhow in USA v Europe matchplay should stand him in good stead. His most notable Ryder Cup moment came in the 1999 competition. Furyk amazed as the USA overcame a record deficit going into the final day to snatch the win. His famous victory over Sergio Garcia was key to the triumph.
The Pennsylvanian also tasted victory in the USA’s 2008 win at Valhalla. Many are crediting him with an improved team spirit in the American camp ahead of this year’s Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France.
Team Europe Captain – Thomas Bjørn
Thomas Bjørn is the most successful Danish golfer in history and in 1997 became the first man from Denmark to qualify for a Ryder Cup team. The 47-year-old is known for his steely determination and forthright personality and leads an exciting European team into this year’s match.
Bjørn is best remembered for throwing away the 2003 Open Championship. Two shots ahead with three holes to play, the Dane got stuck in a bunker at the 16th and went on to lose out to Ben Curtis. Putting that disappointment firmly behind him, the three-time runner up in major tournaments is now tied for 15th in the all-time list of European Tour wins.
Playing in three Ryder Cups, Bjørn has never been on the losing side. He’s also notched up plenty of leadership experience, installed as vice-captain on four occasions. He last featured out on the course in Europe’s win at Gleneagles in 2014.
His knowhow, resilience and renowned attention for detail ensured Bjørn was the obvious pick as Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup captain. He will lead a team which mixes big name stars with inexperienced first timers.
Europe are 27/20* to win the Ryder Cup with Thomas Bjorn as their captain.
Who Has Set The Standards To Beat As Ryder Cup Captains?
So what makes a ‘great’ Ryder Cup captain, and what qualities will Furyk and Bjørn need to bring to the match to lead their team to victory? Here’s four of the best skippers in Ryder Cup history and what made them a great leader.
Most Respected: Bernhard Langer (Europe 2004)
Possessing an ice-cool exterior and demonstrating an understated air of calm and order, the German led his European team to a flawless victory in 2004. Demonstrating discipline, judgement and positive inspiration, Langer was completely in control.
Best Team spirit: Paul Azhinger (USA 2008)
Credited with leading one of the poorest Ryder Cup teams to a surprising victory, Azhinger drew inspiration from the Navy SEALs to implement a team-building system which inspired a win in 2008. The ‘pod system’ has since been successfully used by various other US sports teams.
Leading a Line-up of Legends: Dave Marr (USA 1981)
Boasting three of the greatest names ever to play the game of golf, 1965 US PGA winner Dave Marr led his team to victory in 1981. Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson were among the star-studded line-up. Marr’s team enjoyed a record-breaking victory with Europe suffering their largest ever margin of defeat. The winning captain’s ashes would later be scattered at Walton Heath, scene of the triumph.
Greatest Impact: Tony Jacklin (Europe 1983, 1985, 1987)
When Jacklin was appointed captain, the USA had only lost three times in 24 Ryder Cups and the competition was in danger of becoming little more than an exhibition. Getting the most out of greats like Faldo, Langer and Ballesteros, Jacklin inspired two wins which ensured the Ryder Cup was restored to its position as one of sport’s greatest spectacles.
Head back to Bet UK's dedicated Ryder Cup news page for all you need to know about the 2018 Ryder Cup. Get the latest Ryder Cup betting odds at Bet UK's online betting, as well as our Bet UK Boosts for the competition.
*All odds from Bet UK’s online sportsbook correct at the time of writing.