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Ryder Cup: Can Team Europe cause an upset against Steve Stricker's formidable Team USA?

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World rankings, form, trophy count and home advantage all point to a win for this star-studded Team USA… long in the tooth Team Europe go in as huge Ryder Cup underdogs

  • Team USA’s average world ranking is the greatest since rankings began
  • Only two of Team Europe’s squad are in the top 20 including No 1 Jon Rahm 
  • Team USA’s strength, coupled with the home advantage, could prove too much 
  • However the experience of Team Europe could prove invaluable later this month


The Americans have got rather sick over the years of Europe’s Ryder Cup team casting themselves in the role of underdogs. How can you be the underdogs when you win all the time?

Not this Ryder Cup. Europe are most definitely the underdogs for the match at Whistling Straits next week. Heavy ones at that.

A simple glance at the world rankings illustrates the point. The average world ranking of the American team is 9.0, statistically making this side the best since the rankings began in 1986. The Europeans, by contrast, are 29.4, which might well be the worst. 

Padraig Harrington will have to rely on Team Europe's experience throughout the tournament

Padraig Harrington will have to rely on Team Europe’s experience throughout the tournament

On the back of winning the US open, Team Europe will be looking at Jon Rahm for inspiration

On the back of winning the US open, Team Europe will be looking at Jon Rahm for inspiration

This American team have two current major champions, the Olympic gold medallist and eight players in the world’s top 10, against only one for the visitors. 

All but two of the Americans have won this year on the PGA Tour, as against only two in Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy from Europe.

The other great discrepancy is in the ages of the two sides. When Europe won the Ryder Cup for the first time on American soil in 1987, the oldest player in the team was 35-year-old Eamonn Darcy.

Now you’ve got four players in their forties with three over the age of 44. The oldest player in the American team is Dustin Johnson at 37. The next after him is Harris English at 32. 

Europe have seven players older than English, including two rookies. At just over 35, the average age of the Europeans is almost six years older than the Americans.

The worry is this edition will follow the pattern set back in 2006 where the home side cruises to an easy victory. Five of the last seven Ryder Cups have resulted in blow-out victories for the host team. It’s not a healthy pattern.

Team USA Captain Steve Stricker boasts the younger team and they will eye a blowout victory

Team USA Captain Steve Stricker boasts the younger team and they will eye a blowout victory

What chance of Europe providing us with a thriller on the lines of Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah in 2012? 

You look at the pairings they can put out over the first two days and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to hold their own going into the singles. Rory and Sergio Garcia has a potent fourballs ring to it, as does Ian Poulter and McIlroy in the foursomes. How about Viktor Hovland pairing up with Tommy Fleetwood?

Shane Lowry and Lee Westwood can play with anyone and might be perfect for one another, while one of the trickiest partnerships for captain Padraig Harrington is who plays with Rahm. You’d think everyone would put their hands up to play with the world No 1 but we’ve seen down the years it’s not as straightforward as that. It needs someone with plenty of belief in their own game. Paul Casey, perhaps?

Matt Fitzpatrick will play in the foursomes and Tyrrell Hatton in the fourballs, while Bernd Wiesberger is a much better golfer than outsiders think. He’s certainly capable of taking down anyone in an 18-hole match.

Dustin Johnson is just one of eight American players who make up the top 10 in the world

Dustin Johnson is just one of eight American players who make up the top 10 in the world

The Americans do look a formidable outfit, though. 

The FedEx Cup was a brilliant rehearsal for them. The winner Patrick Cantlay and gold medallist Xander Schauffele are bosom pals and could putt anyone to defeat. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas will team up once more, and they’re not bad putters either. Then come the bombers. Dustin Johnson and his likely fourballs partner, Tony Finau. Scottie Scheffler, and Brooks Koepka (if fit) and the biggest bomber of all in Bryson DeChambeau. Not to mention the man who might get to be Bryson’s partner who just happens to be the best iron player in the game – Open Champion, Collin Morikawa.

A team full of great putters and huge hitters, therefore. 

If Europe pull this one out of the fire, we really will know the inestimable value of experience.

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