European Ryder Cup Star Rory McIlroy Is A Leading Contender For The Open
As the sun sets at the picturesque Carnoustie Golf Links on the eve of the 147th Open Championshipthere are just 72 sleeps to go until the Ryder Cup gets underway at Le Golf National in France. Players from both the USA and European teams will be eyeing major glory during the course of the next four days and – at the risk of looking too far ahead – we take a gander at how those teams are shaping up ahead of the start of the greatest team event in golf on Friday 28 September…
Team USA will head into this year’s Ryder Cup as defending champions, which is something they haven’t been able to say too often over the years. The Americans’ comprehensive 17-11 victory at Hazeltine in 2016 was only the third time that they had emerged victorious since 1993 and the challenge for them at Le Golf National is to win on European soil for the first time in 25 years.
As it stands, Jim Furyk’s team certainly appear to have the edge when it comes to the quality of golfer that they can call upon as six of the eight players who currently sit in their automatic Ryder Cup selection spots are major winners. Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau are currently the top-eight players in the Ryder Cup rankings list who are guaranteed automatic selection for the USA team at the moment, although much can change before the final selections are confirmed at the conclusion of the PGA Championship on 12 August.
Those eight Americans boast ten major wins between them and Furyk would still have four captain’s picks to use, with the likes of Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson all likely to come into consideration.
In contrast, the European team will be made up of the first four players from the Race To Dubai Points List, up until the end of the Made In Denmark on 2 September, and the four leading players from the World Points List. As it stands they are players with potential but not too many major wins between them.
Tyrrell Hatton leads the Race To Dubai list and is followed by Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, whilst the top-four in the world list are Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey.
Those eight European players have just five major titles between them, with four belonging to McIlroy, and they have four potential Ryder Cup debutants in their ranks (Fleetwood, Rahm, Noren, Hatton), compared to USA’s one (DeChambeau). Thomas Bjorn will have four wildcard picks at his disposal in September, with former Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Open winner Henrik Stenson likely to be nailed on for a place in the team if they don’t earn automatic spots in the interim.
Despite the relative lack of major winning experience if the European team were selected today, they can boast a total of 13 Ryder Cup appearances, including 55 matches and 29 points. Interestingly, Paul Casey could be in line to appear in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008.
The European Ryder Cup record compares favourably with the eight American players who would make the USA team as it stands – 14 Ryder Cup appearances between them, 55 matches and 28.5 points in total.
The Ryder Cup promises to be a cracker this year but much can change before the start on 28 September and there are still two major tournaments to be won, starting at Carnoustie on Thursday.