Ryder Cup Preview

Hard to believe it’s been two years since the Ryder Cup was hosted in (kind of) our own backyard. The U.S. put on a dominating performance at Hazeltine National in Chaska, MN, (17-11 U.S. win) and the Euros will be looking forward to avenging the loss on their (kind of) home turf. Let’s take a look at the Ryder Cup so you know what you’re talking about this weekend.

Dates: September 28th – 30th

The Course: Le Golf National, Guyancourt, France (Outside of Paris)

Par 72, 7,331 Yards

The Albatros Course at Le Golf National will host the 2018 Ryder Cup, as well as the 2024 Olympics. Le Golf National has hosted the French Open on the European Tour since 1991 (with the exception of 1999 and 2001), so obviously some of the Euro players will have a course history advantage. Take a look at the course here. The place looks gorgeous.

The Format: The Ryder Cup is played over three days. The first two days are comprised of four-ball and foursome matches (see below), and the third day is 12 singles matches.

Four-ball is basically best ball, where everyone plays their own ball. In teams of two, the lowest score on each hole is taken. The team who has the lowest score wins the hole. If it’s a tie, the hole is halved. If you win more holes than your opponent, you win the match.

Foursomes is alternate shot, also played in teams of two. One player tees off on odd holes and the other on even. The team who has the lowest score wins the hole. If it’s a tie, the hole is halved. If you win more holes than your opponent, you win the match.

Singles is straight up match-play. Everyone will play singles on Sunday. The player who has the lowest score wins the hole. If it’s a tie, the hole is halved. If you win more holes than your opponent, you win the match (notice a trend?).

A team wins the Ryder Cup by gaining 14 ½ points (out of a possible 28). Each match in the three formats is worth one point, with halves (ties) worth ½ point. If the Ryder Cup ends in a 14-14 draw, the previous winner retains the cup. That would be the U.S. this year folks.

The Teams:

U.S.A. (CP = Captain’s Pick)

Captain: Jim Furyk

Vice-Captains: David Duval, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Steve Stricker

Players: Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Bryson Dechambeau (CP), Tony Finau (CP), Phil Mickelson (CP), Tiger Woods (duh, CP)


Captain: Thomas Bjorn

Vice-Captains: Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood

Players: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Oleson, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Paul Casey (CP), Sergio Garcia (CP), Henrik Stenson (CP), Ian Poulter (duh, CP)

For the U.S., the top eight in the Ryder Cup points standings automatically qualify. The Captain (Furyk) then chooses four other players.

The European team’s first four are decided by the European points list, then the next four the World points list. The last four are also Captain’s picks (Bjorn).

What to Expect: As always, an electric atmosphere. I was lucky enough to go to the Saturday matches at Hazeltine in 2016, and it was, for lack of a better word, nuts. People were dressed in crazy costumes, screaming at the top of their lungs and yes, inebriated. It seemed to attract a different type of golf fan, which is awesome. I can’t speak for the Europeans, or if it will be any different because it’s the first Ryder Cup played in France, but I would guess they’ll be just as wild.

The U.S. hasn’t won in Europe in 25 years, but many experts think this is the team to do it. The Americans have often been overshadowed by drama between players (cough…cough…Tiger and Phil) players and captains (cough…cough…Watson and Phil) and simply not as much team chemistry as the Euros have had.

This team, however, is stacked. The U.S. has 9 of the top 15 players in the world. There is much more comradery than in years past. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth grew up together, and are obviously good friends with Rickie Fowler. Koepka and DJ work out together and play a similar type of game. Mickelson has mentored many of these guys since they first hit the Tour. Patrick Reed is basically the U.S. version of Ian Poulter.

That’s not to say the Euros won’t be tough, especially at the site of the French Open. Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood are in fantastic form, and Francesco Molinari won the (British) Open this year. They will be a little more used to the course and have home-field advantage, which I didn’t think was big in golf until Hazeltine last year. The crowds will be roaring and chanting through all three days.

Prediction: U.S. 14 ½, Europe 13 ½

I’m predicting one of the closest Ryder Cups in years. This is the strongest U.S.A. team since world rankings were introduced in 1986, but they’re away from home on a somewhat unfamiliar course.

Enjoy the pageantry this weekend ladies and gents. Happy golfing!