Ryder Cup 2018 - Team Europe Overview
Team Europe begin the Ryder Cup 2018 with the newly installed world number one player heading a line-up dripping with quality and pedigree, but with a smattering of inexperience and poor form mixed in.
The Europeans have made their own continent a golfing fortress in recent times, winning the last five Ryder Cups held on ‘home’ courses. This time France is the venue with Le Golf National near Paris hosting the greatest show in golf.
The Americans may be the favourites, possessing a higher combined world ranking and assembling a team dripping with major titles, but the Europeans bring some exciting golfers who should spark in the matchplay pressure cooker of the Ryder Cup.
Winning nine of the last 11 matches, Europe have been dominant in the Ryder Cup for a quarter of a century. But the trophy is America’s to defend following their 2016 win at Hazeltine, Minnesota.
Thomas Bjørn’s wildcard selections have certainly divided opinion. With the captain’s choices weighting experience over form, the final judgement on whether the Dane’s European Ryder Cup team picks were inspirational or questionable will come on September 30th when the winners are crowned.
The In-Form Foursome of Ryder Cup Team Europe
There is a core quartet in the European team expected to make things happen. Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood are in form coming into the Ryder Cup. If they can perform on L’Albatros course, then the Americans will have a heck of a fight on their hands.
The ascent of Rose to world number one is the sort of pre-tournament boost that can elevate a player from solid team man to talismanic totem. The 38-year-old has enjoyed a storied career filled with highs and lows. A Ryder Cup match-winning performance could really add a climactic chapter to the tale and cap his rise to the top of the rankings.
Meanwhile, McIlroy has hardly enjoyed a vintage 12 months, but he retains the ability to turn on the brilliance. In too many tournaments, the Northern Irishman has lacked the leaderboard-surging leaps we’ve become accustomed to. But in a year spent trying to fix frustrating iron issues, the 29-year-old has at last enjoyed some blemish-free golf in the run-up to the Ryder Cup.
Europe’s other two golfers riding at the top of their game are current Open champion Molinari and US Open runner-up Fleetwood. Molinari has found a consistency around the greens this year to add to his devilish driving. But despite not being on the losing side at a Ryder Cup, the Italian has a poor personal record - winning no points in his two previous matches.
Fleetwood followed up his 2017 European Tour Order of Merit win with a second-place finish at the US Open in June. The 27-year-old Englishman also brings experience of success at the Ryder Cup venue, winning the Open de France at Le Golf National last year.
The European Rookies at the Ryder Cup
Aside from Fleetwood, Team Europe have a further four rookies about to embark on their first Ryder Cup. That’s the same number Darren Clarke took to Hazeltine in 2016 when the USA strolled to victory, but the class of 2018 do have plenty of pedigree.
Alex Noren, John Rahm, Tyrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen join Fleetwood in a sizeable European contingent of players without Ryder Cup experience. However, all have European Tour wins to their name and three of the five sit inside the world top 20 rankings.
The European rookies are as diverse as they are inexperienced. Rahm is the custodian of a huge drive and is fresh from being named 2017 PGA Rookie of the Year; Hatton brings fireball highs and lows; Oleson has finally added performances to his potential; and while Noren may lack the spark some of the others will bring, he has developed a solid all-round game based on hard work.
The Sergio Garcia Conundrum
While Europe may have some inexperienced players in their ranks this year, the highest number of rookies assembled at a Ryder Cup was in 1999 when Mark James had seven players in his team making their debuts. One of them was a 19-year-old Sergio Garcia who remains the youngest man ever to appear at a Ryder Cup. Now 38, he is the riskiest of Bjørn’s wildcards this time around.
Garcia is Europe’s present-day 'Mr Ryder Cup' and is joint fifth on the all-time European points list in the competition, level with the great Seve Ballesteros. His inclusion is a calculated risk based on his experience, but even calculated risks backfire and the Spaniard has been in indifferent form for over a year now, dating back to his 2017 Masters win.
If you think Sergio will turn it around at Le Golf National, Bet UK's online sportsbook offers odds of 49/20* for Sergio Garcia to be the Top European Wildcard at the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Add to Garcia the picks of Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson, and Bjørn has opted to balance the inexperience in his team with some old hands at Ryder Cup competition. While there were no surprises in Team USA’s squad - which almost picked itself - the European captain has attempted to counter the American team’s depth with experience amongst his chosen men.
Among those left disappointed were Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, two players in much better form than the veteran picks, and who both have decent Ryder Cup experience. The Americans may be the pre-tournament favourites to win, and will certainly look attractive to anyone wanting to bet on the Ryder Cup, but should they triumph plenty will still return to Bjørn’s picks and wonder if he made the right call.
For the latest Ryder Cup betting odds, head over to Bet UK's online betting. As well as our standard golf betting markets, we also have a number of Bet UK Boosts for the 2018 Ryder Cup. Amongst our boosts are some of the Ryder Cup betting tips from our resident golf expert, Luke Tredget. Bet UK will be keeping up with the latest Ryder Cup news ahead of the weekend's action.
*All odds from Bet UK’s online sportsbook correct at the time of writing.