The Ryder Cup is back, with the latest renewal of the intense rivalry between Europe and the United States set to take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Rome between 29 September – 1 October.
Fans on both sides of the Atlantic are at fever pitch as tee-off in Italy rapidly approaches and the hosts will be keen to ensure that they extend their dominance on home soil, as Team USA haven’t won in Europe since edging out a 15-13 victory at The Belfry in Warwickshire way back in 1993.
It’s not looking good for Luke Donald’s men, however, as Zach Johnson’s side is set to feature World No.1 Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Reed (4th), Xander Schauffele (6th), Max Homa (8th), Brian Harman (9th) and US Open champion Wyndham Clark.
Unlike their counterparts, the US have also not ruled out LIV Golf professionals— leaving the door open for the in-form Brooks Koepka, who won the PGA Championship this year.
Therefore, it will come as no surprise that Team USA are the heavy favourites with Paddy Power. But Team Europe won’t go down without a fight and will be looking to spare their blushes after the embarrassing 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straights in 2021. So, let’s take a look at the core players who could make a difference for the hosts.
With Ian ‘The Postman’ Poulter not allowed to take part in this year’s Ryder Cup due to his ties with LIV, Rory McIlroy will be Team Europe’s most experienced player and the onus will very much be on the World No.2 to deliver for the hosts.
McIlroy has won four Ryder Cups in his six appearances and has a record of 12 wins, 4 halves and 12 defeats in his 24 matches. While that’s not quite as good as Poulter’s tally, it’s still honourable in a competition like this and McIlroy will be up for the fight after a solid year on the PGA Tour — which includes three top 10 finishes in the majors.
This will be Jon Rahm’s third appearance in a Ryder Cup and the Spaniard is set to play a huge role for Team Europe in Italy as he looks to better his record of three wins, three defeats and one half from his eight matches across the last two renewals.
Rahm and Sergio Garcia picked up a third of Team Europe’s total points when the compatriots went 3-0-0 in the United States two years ago, but the Spanish duo won’t be joining forces this year due to Garcia also being on the book of LIV. The World No.3 will be dangerous regardless of who he partners with though, and the Masters winner will be very hard to beat in the singles.
Viktor Hovland’s first appearance at a Ryder Cup will be one he will most likely prefer to forget. The Norwegian qualified for Padraig Harrington’s team to travel to Whistling Straits two years ago, but the then-rookie didn’t win any of his five games — mustering two halves and three defeats.
He has come on massively in the last two years and is one of the most consistent players in the world. Currently fifth on the official rankings, Hovland has won two PGA Tour events this season and has recorded top-20 finishes in all four majors — including T7 at the Masters and T2 at the PGA Championship. He’ll certainly end his losing streak this year and should be one of the most influential players on Team Europe.
Team Europe are 9/5 to lift the trophy — or 2.80 if you need an odds converter to work out the decimal odds. But if these three players step up, they could have every chance.