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FULL GOLF BET SPECIALIST ANALYSIS, INFO & TIPS

The background so far…

Our analysis is always based on on course/venue characteristics, and we are now further concentrating our efforts on courses where we believe our work have historically produced greater yields. Our analysis of the course requires us to focus firstly on individual players,their current form and fitness level, and the characteristics of their game. We then analyse these findings in relation to the characteristics of the course itself, crucially finding the best fit between an individual player and each particular course. We bring you information early on venue, teams, and individual players. Our final analysis of the above will be from a range of markets, current feeds and the best bookmakers and betting markets. The information with appear here before the tournament in September 2020.

THE VENUE

Closer to the time we’ll place a hole-by-hole review of Whistling Straights – see example below example from Le Golf National from the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Hole 1, par four, 419 yards

2018 average: 3.97 | 2017: 4.23 | 2016: 4.21 2018 ranking: 14 | 2017: 5 | 2016: 6
The opening hole at Le Golf National is certainly not the toughest on the course, but the drive is a daunting one. Too far left and players are liable to find water, especially with the adrenaline pumping, so expect to see several balls out to the right which also lowers the risk of finding water on approach. Those who do find the fairway are in a position to attack and there were 95 birdies here in the Open de France won by Alex Noren in the summer, a notable upturn from previous years.


Hole 2, par three, 210 yards

2018 average: 3.13 | 2017: 3.07 | 2016: 3.15 2018 ranking: 7 | 2017: 9 | 2016: 9
Another daunting tee-shot, played over water to a wide, shallow green. Anything short is dead, but anything long risks a tricky second shot back towards the drink so only those who have full control over the distance of their approach shots can take on this hole with total confidence. The last hole in one here came in 2016 and there were over a hundred bogeys or worse in June, making it one of the key swing par-threes along with the similar 16th.


Hole 3, par five, 558 yards

2018 average: 4.75 | 2017: 4.77 | 2016: 4.81 2018 ranking: 18 | 2017: 18 | 2016: 18 The first par-five is the only hole on the course which has held the same ranking over the last three years, each time playing the easiest. There have been 21 eagles here during the same period, almost three-times as many as the other par-fives combined, and opportunities are certainly there for those who can find a fairway which is guarded by a stream to the right and typical stadium banking to the left. Approach shots have to be threaded between trees, including one which sits in the front-right greenside bunker which, if found, can cause real problems. With four balls in play expect at least one birdie.


Hole 4, par four, 486 yards

2018 average: 4.43 | 2017: 4.25 | 2016: 4.26 2018 ranking: 2 | 2017: 3 | 2016: 4 The longest par-four on the course is also among the toughest, certainly on the front-nine, with a narrow fairway which shapes right-to-left and is guarded by bunkers. There were just 36 birdies here in the latest Open de France – only the final hole yielded fewer – and a grand total of 145 bogeys was the highest on the golf course. In other words, par here is a good score and the best route to it is finding the fairway.


Hole 5, par four, 405 yards

2018 average: 4.07 | 2017: 3.96 | 2016: 4.08 2018 ranking: 12 | 2017: 13 | 2016: 11 After the demanding fourth comes the shorter and far less daunting fifth. A wide bunker runs down the left side of a fairway which curves away to the right and sand is again positioned to the left of the green, meaning anything right off the tee faces a difficult angle and can be blocked out by trees. Still, there’s not much to this one with three-wood more than enough club off the tee and, with the world’s best players in match play mode, expect birdies.


Hole 6, par four, 380 yards

2018 average: 3.84 | 2017: 3.87 | 2016: 3.88 2018 ranking: 15 | 2017: 16 | 2016: 17 The sixth shapes gently from right-to-left and doesn’t feature the sand protection of the fifth hole. A green which is almost as wide as it is deep is made difficult by several slopes which means pin placement is key to how tricky it plays. However, wherever they put it this is almost certain to be the easiest par-four on the course – there simply isn’t that much to it and it’ll be disappointing if a hole is won in par.


Hole 7, par four, 457 yards

2018 average: 4.30 | 2017: 4.05 | 2016: 4.08 2018 ranking: 3 | 2017: 10 | 2016: 11 Out-of-bounds runs down the right-hand side of this par-four but there’s plenty of room to the left off the tee, where players hit their balls onto a plateau which allows them to play downhill to the green. The target is narrow with disaster again lurking to the right and this is a hole which encourages defensive golf, which tends to take the key trouble spots out of the equation. It’ll be interesting to see if that dynamic shifts given the format.


Hole 8, par three, 208 yards

2018 average: 3.08 | 2017: 3.16 | 2016: 3.19 2018 ranking: 11 | 2017: 6 | 2016: 8 Despite the fact that it lacks the water protection of holes two and 16, this is a tricky par-three, played from a raised tee which makes club selection difficult. A small bunker to the front-left sees plenty of action but it’s the sharp run-offs either side of it which make the green artificially small and very difficult to hit. This is a hole where par will prove extremely hard to beat.


Hole 9, par five, 592 yards

2018 average: 4.84 | 2017: 4.99 | 2016: 5.21 2018 ranking: 16 | 2017: 11 | 2016: 6 The second par-five and tougher than the first, with a pond running down the left as the fairway narrows out for those seeking to attack. The second shot is played to a narrow green, with run-offs either side and bunkers to the right which protect it. Setting up an eagle chance is extremely difficult and the punishment for missing the green is severe, so expect a number of players to lay-up. Also worth noting is the dramatic difference in difficulty between 2016 and 2018, which shows what a changing wind can do around this course.


Hole 10, par four, 375 yards

2018 average: 4.13 | 2017: 3.96 | 2016: 3.95 2018 ranking: 7 | 2017: 13 | 2016: 15 A gentle introduction to the back-nine, with a wide fairway which narrows when water comes into play, meaning most will lay back. That still leaves a short-iron approach to a shallow green whose primary protection is a bunker front and centre, which can lead players into going long. The trouble with that is this green slopes from back to front and therein lies the challenge on an otherwise straightforward par-four.


Hole 11, par three, 178 yards

2018 average: 3.00 | 2017: 2.87 | 2016: 2.93 2018 ranking: 13 | 2017: 16 | 2016: 16 The 11th is the easiest par-three on the course, largely due to its yardage. Water is technically in play but not for the professionals unless the bank which leads down to it is shaved down. Otherwise, while it’s easy to miss this green short the punishment isn’t particularly harsh and in a fourball, you’d fancy one of the quartet to make two.


Hole 12, par four, 433 yards

2018 average: 4.09 | 2017: 4.25 | 2016: 4.29 2018 ranking: 10 | 2017: 3 | 2016: 2 Another raised tee which plays down to a narrow fairway guarded by sand on either side. As the hole turns sharply right it’s those down that side who shorten the hole but playing to the left can improve the angle so there are options even if three-wood is again plenty. The green doesn’t feature a single bunker and is clover-shaped, making pin position vital.


Hole 13, par four, 415 yards

2018 average: 4.18 | 2017: 4.12 | 2016: 4.25 2018 ranking: 5 | 2017: 7 | 2016: 5 The 13th hole looks slightly different to most on an otherwise exposed layout, as trees guard the approach to the green along with a lake which is in play when front pin positions are in use. It’s all about precision on a short hole which does yield birdies and that begins on the tee, where those straying too far left – the safer route – can find themselves in some of the most unpredictable rough on the course. That makes the second shot very difficult to control.


Hole 14, par five, 595 yards

2018 average: 4.81 | 2017: 4.93 | 2016: 5.00 2018 ranking: 17 | 2017: 15 | 2016: 13 A dog-leg par-five which runs slightly uphill, making the approach shot to a tilted green more difficult. It’s still there to be reached in two, however, with the approach played over a huge bunker which guards the putting surface. Those laying up have plenty of space in which to do so but most players here will feel the need to attack should they find what’s a reasonably wide fairway.


Hole 15, par four, 408 yards

2018 average: 4.26 | 2017: 4.11 | 2016: 4.13 2018 ranking: 4 | 2017: 8 | 2016: 10 The closing stretch begins with a difficult par-four, with the tee-shot played to a wide fairway but the approach shot to a narrow green guarded by water. This one has a Florida feel to it and is all about the second shot which has to be straight, and we can expect some cautious efforts over any front pin as the green does widen out towards the back.


Hole 16, par three, 177 yards

2018 average: 3.11 | 2017: 2.99 | 2016: 2.98 2018 ranking: 9 | 2017: 11 | 2016: 14 Another clover-shaped green which is protected by water at the front and bunkers to the left. Front pin positions do bring that water into play but back-pins are harder to access, as a ridge runs through the putting surface roughly two-thirds of the way up. Long and short are both bad misses so the middle of the green will do here.


Hole 17, par four, 480 yards

2018 average: 4.17 | 2017: 4.32 | 2016: 4.35 2018 ranking: 6 | 2017: 2 | 2016: 1 The least dramatic of the closing holes but difficult nonetheless, particularly as this fairway is really narrow and the green, prefaced by a sharp bank, is above the level of the fairway and extremely shallow. With mid-iron approaches, that makes it very hard to find and a missed fairway often means a missed green, with those with sharp short-games still battling to escape with par.


Hole 18, par four, 471 yards

A hole which looks very similar to the first, with water down the left, bunkers guarding the bail-out to the right, and a green on the other side of the lake. It’ll be fascinating to see whether some of the US behemoths can cut the corner here, which would reduce the hole to a wedge, but doing so runs the definite risk of finding water which has made for so many dramatic finishes in the Open de France. The green is large and multi-contoured with birdie chances hard to find.

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TEAM EUROPE

Again, we will fill the below with the 2020 team when it is confirmed. The content shown here was the 2018 Golf National Ryder cup Team Europe Review:
With Thomas Bjorn’s team complete, here we profile the 12 players who will represent Europe in Paris.

Francesco Molinari

Ryder Cup record Overall: 0-4-2 Foursomes: 0-2-0 Fourball: 0-1-1 Singles: 0-1-1 Course form: 26-21-MC-13-25-2-MC-2-18-26-6-2-38 Third time as a Ryder Cup qualifier and so far he’s been involved in two of the most dramatic renewals in memory, first when playing alongside brother Edoardo at Celtic Manor in 2010 before effectively completing the Miracle in Medinah for Europe in 2012, when Martin Kaymer’s putt kept the trophy and very much stole the headlines but Molinari’s half against Tiger Woods ensured outright victory. Despite that, so far Molinari’s contribution has been limited. He was the lowest scorer on the team in 2010 and ahead only of Peter Hanson in 2012, managing a half in each renewal from three games played; in other words, he’s yet to win a full point in six tries. Yet, six years on from his latest appearance, the Italian not only returns a major champion but also takes part in a renewal staged at Le Golf National, where he’s three times been second and owns a game made for the golf course. Before winning the Open, Molinari had confessed that match play doesn’t bring out his best, that perhaps he just isn’t nasty enough. It was hard to disagree. Much then depends on what downing Tiger Woods and the rest really did for him at Carnoustie. If he comes here with the confidence of a major champion, which he should, then there’s no reason he can’t become a key part of any European success. Long enough to keep up and straighter than anyone else here, there are no excuses and he’ll be expected to play a key role. That’s a new kind of pressure.


Justin Rose

Ryder Cup record Overall: 11-6-2 Foursomes: 5-2-1 Fourball: 4-3-0 Singles: 2-1-1 Course form: MC-3-72-9 A brilliant Ryder Cup performer ever since his 2008 debut, in which he beat Phil Mickelson in singles having previously struck up a winning partnership with Ian Poulter. Repeat performance in 2012 (again beating Mickelson, again having fared well with Poulter) until he was paired with close friend Henrik Stenson at Gleneagles, the pair winning all three games before they were split up on Saturday afternoon. At Hazeltine, Rose and Stenson bounced back from defeat to the star Reed/Spieth pairing on Friday morning to gain revenge on Friday afternoon and it remains surprising that they didn’t play together again, but where Rose is concerned he’s now featured in all 15 sessions across the 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions and has built a remarkably impressive record along the way. As for his play in 2018, he’s been typically consistent, contended fairly regularly and won in Texas, while his major form reads 12-10-2-19 and again demonstrates that he’s one of the most reliable players in the sport, inside and outside the Ryder Cup. Sure to be a feature again here, it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s Stenson, Poulter or perhaps someone else who gets the benefit of playing with the European with perhaps fewest questions to answer.


Tyrell Hatton

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: MC-12-33-MC-16 Enfant terrible who won two strong events soon after qualifying began to all but secure a debut appearance. He knows Le Golf National well and should be suited to it, but there have to be some doubts as to how he’ll cope with this unique pressure and just how big a role he’ll be expected to play. Given that Hatton is prone to fallow periods it’s encouraging that he’s made every cut since early summer and having closed out two recent PGA Tour starts with scintillating 64s, including when securing his second major top-10 of the year, it’s hoped that he’ll arrive in Paris somewhere near the top of his game. He’s also a potential answer to the Paul Casey conundrum, having won alongside his equally irritating (in the eyes of some) compatriot at the EurAsia Cup at the start of the year, and while unclear whether he’ll rise to the occasion or not the course is suitable enough to expect a solid debut.


Tommy Fleetwood

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: MC-MC-MC-1-MC Another rookie qualifier but one who is more than comfortable at elite level now and seems to play well just about every week wherever he is in the world. That’s largely due to an outstanding long-game, but don’t underestimate the value of his attitude, the relationship he has with his caddie and wider team (including wife, who is also manager) plus the definite improvements made in his short game. Combine all that with a victory here at Le Golf National in 2017 and you have a potential stalwart for Europe, another who has played with Casey without hitting him, but one who could team up nicely with anyone in reality. That said, his course record is far from flawless and in fact away from last summer’s victory, he’s failed to break 70 in 10 rounds or to make a weekend in five visits. Now a fully-fledged member of the world’s elite and a player who has taken so much in his stride over the last two years, expect Fleetwood to cope well with the unique pressure of a Ryder Cup and, all being well, play four matches minimum, proving that his course form is a red herring in the process.


Jon Rahm

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: 10-5 The closest thing Europe has to an equivalent of Justin Thomas, in that he’s a rookie in literal terms but is currently inside the world’s top five and, as well as having won all across the world in little more than two years as a professional, he’s also started to threaten that first major which to many seems inevitable. With what some would term a Spanish temper to go with his power and flair, it’s easy to see why Rahm is expected to follow in the footsteps of Ballesteros, Olazabal and Garcia in building a career around this event and there’s no reason to doubt his allegiance despite having received his golfing education in Arizona and, quite understandably, spending much of his time on the PGA Tour. As well as winning in Ireland, Dubai, California (twice) and Spain – five titles in 50 starts or thereabouts – Rahm marked our cards with his run to the final of the WGC-Match Play in 2017, less than a year into his professional career, and if Europe are to win this thing back they will need him to do what’s expected of him – and possibly more.


Rory McIlroy

Ryder Cup record Overall: 9-6-4 Foursomes: 4-3-1 Fourball: 3-2-2 Singles: 2-1-1 Course form: MC-4-3 Europe’s most decorated player and a potential lead-off man on Sunday, having taken that role for the first time at Hazeltine where he suffered his first singles defeat at the hands of Patrick Reed. Prior to that, he’d thumped Rickie Fowler in 2014 having also beaten Keegan Bradley in 2012 and it’s likely that, as with the very best players in history, his singles record continues to impress. McIlroy has also proved an able partner, though, first with mentor Graeme McDowell before flying the nest to form a key partnership with Ian Poulter at Medinah, a winning one with Sergio Garcia at Gleneagles and a devastating one with Thomas Pieters at Hazeltine. There’s talk of McIlroy pairing with Thorbjorn Olesen this time and Bjorn will hope it’s more Pieters than Andy Sullivan, the latter having been alongside McIlroy as USA completed a clean sweep of the opening foursomes two years ago. Away from the Ryder Cup, it’s clear that McIlroy hasn’t been able to reach the dizzying heights of 2014 but he’s still won again this year and contended in two of the four majors, the bare minimum in terms of personal expectations but evidence that he’s close his devastating best, the sort of golf which would ensure he’s key to any European success here despite not yet having top-scored for his side. McIlroy has played every match in each of the last three editions, just like Rose. It’s possible to argue that at Hazeltine, in a highly-charged environment, this cost him half a point or more on Sunday. Yet back on European soil it’s likely that he’s again sent out five times and if Europe are to win, they’ll need a positive return on that investment.


Alex Noren

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: MC-MC-MC-78-37-15-MC-8-10-1 Similar career path to Fleetwood and effectively sealed his place in the side by succeeding the Englishman as Open de France champion in June, courtesy of his now trademark Sunday charge, the like of which also saw him win last year’s BMW PGA Championship. Between those two efforts, the Swede demonstrated his skills to a wider audience in a play-off defeat to Jason Day at the Farmers and in beating Thomas to third place in the Match Play, although it must be said that his form of late has nosedived and that will be a concern given his potential to do serious damage. Team golf record isn’t particularly encouraging, especially his failure to win a pairs game against inferior opposition at the EurAsia Cup earlier this year, and suddenly looks one of the Europeans to be a little worried about despite a generally reliable, malleable game and a personality which means he could team up with anyone, not just compatriot Stenson.


Thorbjorn Olesen

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: 2-MC-MC-MC-WD-3-MC Clung on to the final qualifying spot and deservedly so, having sprung to life with victory in the Italian Open and held that form through summer, notably when third in elite company at Firestone. Given the pressure he’s been under, and all the talk about his relationship with captain Bjorn, it’s a tremendous achievement to have taken an awkward decision out of his mentor’s hands. Just how big a role he’ll now play remains to be seen, but his hyper-aggressive approach, waywardness off the tee on occasion and excellent putting would appear to mark him down as more of a fourball candidate while his ability to win tournaments from the front regardless of the opposition hints that he could make for a surprise package in the singles. There have been suggestions that he’ll pair up with McIlroy and that could make for a killer combination, Olesen having shown he can take care of this golf course twice before with his putting in particular likely to complement McIlroy’s obvious talents.


Ian Poulter

Ryder Cup record Overall: 12-4-2 Foursomes: 4-1-0 Fourball: 4-3-1 Singles: 4-0-1 Course form: 73-55-30-14-3-9-30-3-18-4-25-45-21 Nicknamed ‘The Postman’ after his Medinah heroics, as he scraped Europe off the canvas with golf which left Saturday partner McIlroy in awe. He’d already built up a reputation as a Ryder Cup specialist and went on to play a key part on Sunday as Europe completed a miracle comeback. Poulter was less effective at Gleneagles, where his singles winning run was ended in a half with Webb Simpson, but there were still moments of chest-beating brilliance and perhaps Europe were just too dominant to get the best out of a player at his most dangerous when his back is against the wall. That was certainly the case earlier this year, when Poulter birdied the 72nd hole of the Houston Open to force a play-off he’d go on to win, securing the final place in the Masters field. He’s held his form well since and was guaranteed a place in the side as soon as it was clear he would require one. With a deep bank of Le Golf National form – he’s played the Open de France there no fewer than 13 times and, as he’s never missed the cut, that’s 52 competitive rounds – expect him to play a major role, especially as a foursomes player. He will be a marked man, but that only serves to make him more dangerous.


Paul Casey

Ryder Cup record Overall: 3-2-4 Foursomes: 1-1-0 Fourball: 1-0-3 Singles: 1-1-1 Course form: 10-MC Back in the side following a decade away after Keith Pelley and captain Bjorn made the trip to Casey’s Arizona home to come to an arrangement, the feeling having been that Europe were shooting themselves in the foot by not making him eligible. Once Casey’s path to the side was opened up, he showcased his intentions by taking part in the EurAsia Cup and from there went on to win on the PGA Tour for the first time in almost a decade, at which point his return appeared certain. In the end, a quiet spell during late-summer meant he needed a wild card but the hard yards were done in the early part of the year. Casey’s record in the competition is solid, certainly when it comes to avoiding defeat which he’s done in seven of nine matches. Tellingly, he’s unbeaten in fourball, which certainly fits the narrative of a player who is not perhaps considered to be too concerned with much beyond his own score. In fairness that’s perhaps a little harsh given the effort he’s made at the EurAsia Cup and he’s a welcome addition.


Henrik Stenson

Ryder Cup record Overall: 7-7-2 Foursomes: 2-3-1 Fourball: 3-2-1 Singles: 2-2-0 Course form: MC-60-MC-55-29-7 Made his debut with a 1-1-1 record at the K Club and has kept hold of that 50% strike-rate since, playing a bigger role at Gleneagles and Hazeltine and impressing in particular at the former. Much of Stenson’s recent success has come courtesy of a partnership with friend Rose, and while they won just one of three matches at Hazeltine there’s every chance they’re sent out together once more. The concern with Stenson would be that he’s been nursing an elbow injury, one which has undermined what could’ve been another excellent year given that he registered his best ever Masters performance in the spring and also played well in the US Open. But reports suggest he’s back close to full health and while he surely won’t play five times as was the case two years ago, he will be a big part of the team room. Stenson has limited experience of Le Golf National but was seventh on his only visit this decade and it’s a course where three-wood off the tee and precision on approach, very much his modus operandi, is a working formula. If he’s able to prepare well, he’ll prove hard to beat.


Sergio Garcia

Ryder Cup record Overall: 19-11-7 Foursomes: 9-3-3 Fourball: 7-4-3 Singles: 3-4-1 Course form: 8 Undoubtedly the selection which has caused most controversy, despite the fact that a good Ryder Cup here and Sergio Garcia could become the most successful European player in history. Of course, that’s only worth so much but let’s remember that since the last Ryder Cup, he has won four times, including the Masters. The case against his selection, then, rested solely on a poor summer, yet even that included eighth place at Le Golf National while his final start prior to Bjorn’s announcement saw him start really well on the PGA Tour, where eight of his last 10 rounds have been par or better. At his best, he is not. Gone at the game? Don’t be ridiculous. Garcia has been selected for reasons beyond form, and that should be easy to understand. He’s an especially effective foursomes player who could develop a devastating partnership with Rahm, and who either way will surely prove a major asset in the team room, something which can’t be said of those who missed out. There are three weeks between Europe’s wild card announcement and the Ryder Cup. Garcia, one of the Tour’s hardest workers on the range, will redouble his efforts to peak in the event which matters most to him. All wild cards are fortunate to be selected, Garcia included, but the outcry is unwarranted. Garcia has been a staple of Europe’s most dominant Ryder Cup run. On and off the course, he has much to offer.

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TEAM USA

Again, we will fill the below with the 2020 team when it is confirmed. The content shown here was the 2018 Golf National Ryder cup Team USA Review:
Now we profile Jim Furyk’s American Ryder Cup side, who head to Le Golf National seeking to defend the trophy they won back two years ago.

Brooks Koepka

Ryder Cup record Overall: 3-1-0 Foursomes: 1-0-0 Fourball: 1-1-0 Singles: 1-0-0 Course form: MC Three-time major champion whose path to greatness took in the Challenge Tour, first of all, before his first top-tier win came in the Turkish Airlines Open. Since adding his first PGA Tour title in Phoenix, he’s dominated a US Open, successfully defended that and then won the 2018 PGA Championship, on each occasion showing a remarkable poise which will continue to make him one of the most deadly golfers on the planet. There have been examples of single-minded, world-class major winners not demonstrating their best in team competitions in the past but a 3-1-0 return on debut in 2016 suggests that’s nothing to worry about, so perhaps the biggest concern would be his suitability to the course. Koepka’s 330-yard, fairway-finding cut with the driver is a weapon anywhere, but less so here at Le Golf National than Hazeltine or Bellerive and he failed to make the weekend on his sole start in the Open de France. In terms of likely partners, he went 2-0-0 with friend Dustin Johnson at the 2017 Presidents Cup and while they did lose their sole Ryder Cup match together a year earlier, they performed well. It’s a partnership which will surely be renewed and DJ is the only player on this team Koepka has played pairs golf with before.


Dustin Johnson

Ryder Cup record Overall: 6-5-0 Foursomes: 1-2-0 Fourball: 2-3-0 Singles: 3-0-0 Course form: Debut Won the US Open for an overdue major breakthrough before his younger, cooler friend took over. Frustrating that he remains on one and there have been chances missed even since that Oakmont victory, but outside of the four biggest events of the year he remains prolific and has famously won at least once in every season since first securing his PGA Tour card a decade ago. This season has said it all, really. He’s looked unbeatable twice, but then back-pedalled quickly when in command of the US Open and failed to really feature in the other two, again despite a very strong start at Bellerive in August. Is any of that relevant when it comes to the Ryder Cup? Perhaps not, but it does underline that he can look unbeatable one minute only to prove anything but and that should encourage his opponents in Paris. So should his Ryder Cup pairs record, which reads 3-5. It’s not bad by US standards – they’ve lost two of the three Ryder Cups he’s played in – but it’s not as good as you’d expect and were it not for a flawless singles record, his return would be pretty miserable. Clearly, he’s a fearsome Sunday opponent and it’s possible that a partnership with Koepka will take off, but he has a little to prove for the time being.


Justin Thomas

Ryder Cup record Debutant Course form: T8 Major champion, 10-time professional winner, world number one for four weeks earlier this year and back to his best with a convincing victory over the world’s best in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. And this will be his Ryder Cup debut. Yes, Thomas was only on the very fringes of the side two years ago, at which time he’d only won the previous year’s CIMB Classic and a Web.com Tour event. It’s remarkable how far he’s come since, winning the CIMB again, starting 2017 with back-to-back wins and a round of 59 to boot, ending it a major champion, and largely maintaining that sort of form since. As a consequence of all this, he did of course make his Presidents Cup debut last year, one of four players relied upon to play all five sessions, and he fared well with a 3-1-1 return and his sole defeat coming at the hands of a world-class opponent in singles when the job was already done. Having wisely paid a visit to Le Golf National for the Open de France, where he tied for eighth despite not being at his best at the time, there’s every reason to expect Thomas to play a key role in the side and his well-travelled game simply doesn’t have a real weakness. Went 2-0-1 with Rickie Fowler at the Presidents Cup but there are various other options including a mouthwatering partnership with his close friend Jordan Spieth or with regular practice partner Tiger Woods and whoever plays with Thomas is entitled to walk to that first tee a little taller.


Patrick Reed

Ryder Cup record Overall: 6-1-2 Foursomes: 1-0-2 Fourball: 3-1-0 Singles: 2-0-0 Course form: Debut Dubbed ‘Captain America’ after a phenomenal debut at Gleneagles, where he was second only to Justin Rose in total points thanks to an unbeaten 3.5. That was the start of his partnership with Jordan Spieth and while they were surprisingly benched on Friday afternoon in Scotland, they’ve not missed a session since and were largely excellent despite one heavy fourballs defeat at Hazeltine. Away from the Ryder Cup, Reed has become a major champion having fended off the very best to win the Masters and while his form has dipped since, he seems likely to rediscover something very close to his best now returned to team competition. Having renewed his partnership with Spieth at last year’s Presidents Cup, where they were unbeaten for the second time in two team competitions, their record together hard to ignore and it therefore seems likely they will play alongside each other once more, although with Thomas, Koepka, Johnson around it’s less certain they’ll lead out the Sunday singles. Whatever the case, Reed will be a marked man in Paris, but that’s just the way he likes it.


Bubba Watson

Ryder Cup record Overall: 3-8-0 Foursomes: 0-2-0 Fourball: 3-3-0 Singles: 0-3-0 Course form: MC In-and-out year but one which includes three victories, enough to comfortably ensure he isn’t invited along to help behind the scenes as was the case two years ago and can instead prepare for a playing return at a golf course he’s famously visited once before, endearing himself to the locals by blaming them for his poor performance. No doubt this event means much to Bubba – after losing a play-off for the 2010 PGA Championship he quickly sought to confirm he’d done enough to qualify – but the fact of the matter is he’s yet to impress. So far, he’s played for three losing sides, never returning a winning record, and his latest appearance saw him lose all three matches at Gleneagles and none of them were close. Whether a renewal of his partnership with friend Webb Simpson is on the cards remains to be seen but chances are they will be given the chance to play together in fourballs, the only format under which he’s returned a point, and at least Watson will be able to rely on an in-form, fairway-hitting partner at a course he will struggle to overpower. Still, it’s hard to escape the notion that Furyk would be wise to use him sparingly, particularly as his form has been sporadic, his best efforts at courses he knows and loves, and the aforementioned issues in this event before. Must do better else this could be his farewell.


Jordan Speith

Ryder Cup record Overall: 4-3-2 Foursomes: 1-0-2 Fourball: 3-1-0 Singles: 0-2-0 Course form: Debut Made his debut in 2014 where striking up that brilliant partnership with Reed and while overshadowed by his playing partner, still had much to do with their success and that was again the case at Hazeltine two years ago, and at Liberty National (Presidents Cup) in between. The difference between the two is that while Reed keeps winning his singles matches, beating Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson in the Ryder Cup, Spieth has compiled a miserable 0-5-0 record in this and the Presidents Cup. Jhonattan Vegas, Marc Leishman and Graham DeLaet have all seen him off in the Presidents Cup while he was reeled in by Graeme McDowell at Gleneagles and lost to Stenson at Hazeltine. When presented with a problem, a perceived weakness, Spieth tends to find the answer so it’d be unwise to assume this sequence will continue, yet it does suggest a fallibility which is at odds with his performances as an individual, such as when producing golf from the gods to rescue the situation at last year’s Open Championship. Clearly, 2018 hasn’t been his best year but the putter – all the more valuable in this event – has started to warm up and, like Thomas, he’s one of those who has shown that he can take his game overseas without losing its edge. Fascinating to see how he does in singles and to find out whether his partnership with Reed is considered as vital now as it has been.


Rickie Fowler

Ryder Cup record Overall: 2-4-5 Foursomes: 1-2-2 Fourball: 0-1-2 Singles: 1-1-1 Course form: Debut Earned plaudits on debut as a wild card in 2010 when he fought back to a singles half-point to help keep the game alive, responding manfully to a nightmare incident on day one in which he played the wrong ball alongside his new captain, Jim Furyk. Missed Medinah – no bad thing going forward – but failed to win a match at Gleneagles and was used only in foursomes alongside Phil Mickelson at Hazeltine, perhaps a surprise given his standing and the likelihood that fourball would suit. Not much has changed since then, in that he remains a brilliant player but one still fighting criticism for his inability to win a major as yet, although 2018 hasn’t been his most productive year despite a much tougher display for second place at Augusta in the spring. Played with Thomas at the Presidents Cup where he added an impressive singles win to his Justin Rose scalp of two years ago but recent oblique injury raises some doubts as to how big a role he’ll be capable of taking here having finally won a Ryder Cup at Hazeltine but basically stood still since as others have moved forward.


Webb Simpson

Ryder Cup record Overall: 2-3-1 Foursomes: 0-1-0 Fourball: 2-1-0 Singles: 0-1-1 Course form: Debut Fared well in 2012 when returning two points from four as a rookie and unfortunate, perhaps, to bump into Ian Poulter in the singles. Not so good in 2014, though, skying his opening tee-shot and losing that match 5&4 alongside Watson, after which Simpson was benched until Sunday. To his credit, the former US Open winner halved his rematch with Poulter in the singles but the game was up by then and it’s easy to believe that he’ll be used sparingly here, as the eighth and final qualifier whose obvious partner, Watson, hasn’t been in particularly good form and does not have a positive Ryder Cup record. All that being said, if there’s a concern among the US side it might be their relative accuracy from the tee and that’s Simpson’s forte, so in the likely absence of Matt Kuchar or Zach Johnson he could well take up the steady-man role and play at least two fourball matches if not much foursomes. That ability to find the target off the tee means he could be difficult to beat in singles, too, and the PLAYERS champion is not to be underestimated.


Tiger Woods

Ryder Cup record Overall: 13-17-3 Foursomes: 4-8-1 Fourball: 5-8-0 Singles: 4-1-2 Course form: Debut Tiger Woods’ Ryder Cup record is the cause of much debate and has an undoubted chicken and egg element. Is it poor because he’s not very good, or not very engaged, in the Ryder Cup, or is it poor because he’s been playing in under-performing sides? In other words, have the US struggled because of Woods, or in spite of him? One way or another, a losing return is not what anyone would expect of the sport’s greatest modern-day player and the fact that his best golf has come in singles is not a coincidence. Not only does it speak to the selfishness inherent in virtually every all-time great, but it suggests that he’s been let down by inferior partners, many of whom have struggled to produce their best now playing with, rather than against, Tiger Woods. There’s a chance that could all change in 2018. Woods is now one of the best golfers in the world, not the best golfer in the world, and many of his team-mates appear to view him as an avuncular figure, one to be respected but not feared. It’s quite possible that playing with Woods now brings out a player’s best and on that score it’s telling that Bryson DeChambeau, expected to team up with him in Paris, shot 63 when they played together in Boston recently. Woods’ place on this team has appeared certain ever since he proved he was fit and could still play golf and while unlikely to feature in all five matches, he is expected to play a key role, perhaps more so in fourball golf where his playing partner is removed of some responsibility and able to focus on his own game to some extent. One thing we can be clear on is that come Sunday, beating Woods will be a real challenge for any European – only on his 1997 debut has he lost.


Phil Mickelson

Ryder Cup record Overall: 18-20-7 Foursomes: 5-7-4 Fourball: 8-8-2 Singles: 5-5-1 Course form: Debut An ever-present since 1995 and started with a bang, winning all three matches at Oak Hill in a narrow USA defeat. First victory came at Brookline in 1999 and through those three appearances he remained unbeaten in singles, a record ended by Welshman Philip Price at the Belfry in 2002. All told, Mickelson has played in 45 matches, from which he’s returned 21.5 points. He’s 5.5 from 11 in singles and 9 from 18 in fourball, so it’s foursomes which have been slightly more problematic and that’s fairly logical, given that not always have colleagues been able to perform the miracle recoveries which Mickelson employs to rescue his own waywardness. Last time we saw him, Mickelson halved arguably the best singles match in Ryder Cup history with Sergio Garcia but his place in this side was in doubt for a while, until he beat Justin Thomas to win the WGC-Mexico in the spring, his first title since 2013. Still, he required a captain’s pick but few would argue one of the hottest putters on the planet right now is anything but worthy and, like Woods, he’ll relish teaming up with these brilliant young players. Just who goes out alongside Mickelson remains to be seen as he’s only paired up with DJ, Fowler and Tiger of those in this side, none of those partnerships producing a winning return. Perhaps, then, he’ll be used a little more sparingly and predominantly in foursomes, but whatever the case he’ll head to Paris with a burning desire to finally win a Ryder Cup in Europe.


Bryson DeChambeau

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: Debut Brilliant young talent who will only just have turned 25 when he makes his Ryder Cup debut as one of those likely to guarantee a strong US line-up for many years to come. Missed out on qualification by one spot but emphatically denied Jim Furyk the right to overlook him by winning the final two events before wild cards were announced and both times in style, batting away elite opponents before cruising to victory over the closing holes as others floundered. Some still seem keen to demean him by harping on about science and methods and making tired quips about air density, when really we ought to be talking about him as we do a Jon Rahm with both surely set to contend for majors in 2018. Not that DeChambeau will mind; his focus is solely on becoming the best player in the world and, with four wins in 18 months, there’s no reason he can’t achieve that lofty ambition. Many expect him to team up with fellow Bridgestone user Tiger Woods in Paris and that looks a dangerous partnership, with DeChambeau’s reliable tee-to-green game one which could grind down many an opponent in this format down the years and complement Woods’ flair perfectly.


Tony Finau

Ryder Cup record Debut Course form: Debut Now firmly inside the world’s top 20 having taken his game to new heights over the past 18 months, fulfilling the promise he’d shown ever since earning European Tour invites as a teenager more than a decade ago. Critics will say that his rapid ascent has come without silverware – Finau’s one and only PGA Tour title came in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open – but it’s hard to knock a player who has been 10th in the Masters, fifth in the US Open and ninth in the Open this year.
One of the longest hitters on the circuit, Finau’s strength is in his aggression which sees him figure highly in all the scoring charts and small improvements with the putter mean that there is no real weakness in his game, one which would appear particularly suited to fourball golf where his occasional mistakes should be less of a concern, and his ability to string together birdies allowed to flourish. It was that ability which Finau showcased alongside captain Furyk at the PGA Championship, where he made 14 birdies over the 36 holes they played alongside each other, and it’s given him the edge over Xander Schauffele whose CV is arguably stronger when it comes to the very bottom line, but who has been a little less consistent and perhaps less devastating when it comes to sustained bursts of scoring. With Finau also immensely popular, he seems sure to slot in nicely and his late inclusion underlines the strength of this United States team.

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