Twenty three of the twenty-four players who will set foot on Le Golf National in Paris for the 2018 Ryder Cup are now known.
USA remain the 5/6 favourites to retain the trophy, Europe are 11/10 and it’s 11/1 for a 14-14 tie.
Thomas Bjorn has finalised his squad by adding experience to the European team, who will contain five rookies among the eight automatic qualifiers. The Dane chose Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson to add to his young team. These four have bags of matchplay and course experience between them, and the course is always the most important factor.
American captain Jim Furyk has delayed his final selection until after this weekend’s BMW Championship, but he announced that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson and Bryson DeChambeau will join his eight players who qualified outright in USA’s quest to win their first Ryder Cup on European soil since victory at The Belfry in 1993.
Mickleson will be playing in a record 12th Ryder Cup, surpassing Nick Faldo’s record of eleven appearances.
The most important aspect of playing at Le Golf National is keeping the ball on the short grass. Henrik Stenson tops the driving accuracy stats on the PGA Tour, with 74% of his drives finding the fairway. The other captain picks also have decent fairway percentages with Poulter finding 65% while Casey and Garcia finding 62%.
This compares favourably with the American captain’s picks. Although they boast masses of experience in relation to Woods and Mickleson, their driving has been wayward of late. Woods finds 57% of fairways, and Mickleson 52%.
In fact, on the PGA Tour stats page, there are six European players in the top 90 when it comes to driving accuracy, yet only ONE American. Each of Stenson (1st), Poulter (36th), Rose (50th), Molinari (58th), Fleetwood (69th) and Casey (79th) better all Americans in terms of driving accuracy, except from Rickie Fowler (60th).
Although this is one of the strongest Amercian teams ever assembled for the bi-annual tournament, this vital statistic, coupled with more course experience gives Europe an excellent chance of continuing their dominance on home soil over their Stateside counterparts.
Only Justin Thomas played in this year’s French Open from Team USA, using the driver just seven times on the 72 holes he played back in early summer.
The Americans may just come out on top on world rankings and tournaments secured this year (and Major’s), but on the stats that matter, it’s Europe who may just be value 11/10 shots to lift the famous Trophy on the final Sunday in September.