The Ryder Cup gets under way in two weeks time as Europe and USA go to battle at Le Golf National in Paris.
Here, we compare the two sides ahead of golf’s prestigious biennial event on September 28.
Team USA: 11.75
Team Europe: 18.5
Justin Rose’s second place finish at the BMW Championship last weekend saw the Englishman become the World No1 for the first time in his 21-year professional career.
However, that is where the positive news ends for Thomas Bjorn’s side as six of the top 10 spots in the world are occupied by American players, with Europe holding the other four.
Remarkably, America’s lowest ranked player is Phil Mickelson at World No25, while Ian Poulter and Thorbjorn Olesen at No34 and No44 respectively increase Europe’s average.
Advantage: Team USA
Team Europe: 8
Team USA: 31
America hold the advantage in major wins by a considerable margin with Tiger Woods (14) and Mickelson (five) sharing 19 victories between them.
In fact, American players have dominated majors in recent years, with Sergio Garcia (Masters 2017) and Francesco Molinari (Open Championship 2018) the only two European players to win in five out of the last eight major events.
Seven European players have not won a major, while only three Americans have not sealed one of golf’s most prestigious events.
Advantage: Team USA
RYDER CUP RECORD
Team Europe: 72.5
Team USA: 67
Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and DeChambeau are the only rookies on Team USA, while Bjorn has to manage Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren qualifying for the first time.
The experienced Woods (14.5) and Mickelson (21.5) have collected a scintillating 36 of USA’s 67 points, with Bubba Watson registering a paltry three points from three Ryder Cup appearances (2010, 2012 and 2014).
For Europe, Sergio Garcia tops the points chart with 22.5 from eight tournament appearances stretching back to 1999. Poulter (13), Rose (12) and McIlroy (11) share 36 points from their four-plus Ryder Cup caps each.
Advantage: Team Europe
FORM IN 2018
Team Europe: 13
Team USA: 15
Dustin Johnson, Watson and DeChambeau have three wins each in 2018, with the latter clinching victory in two out of his last three tournaments.
Four of America’s players – Rickie Fowler, Woods, Spieth and Finau – have yet to win this year, but Finau has been among the most consistent in world golf, with an impressive 11 top-10s on the PGA Tour.
From the Europe team, only Henrik Stenson and Hatton have not tasted victory, with Garcia carrying the worst run of form of either team into the Ryder Cup with a horrific eight missed cuts.
Rose is the most consistent players on Bjorn’s side following his eight top-10 finishes in 2018, including a stunning win at the Fort Invitational in May and back-to-back runners-up finishes.
Advantage: Team USA
GREENS IN REGULATION
Team Europe: 52.8
Team USA: 49.6
With the tight and tricky greens of Le Golf National, both teams will be looking for accuracy off the tee.
Stenson is the top ranked player in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour, hitting 74.25 per cent of greens from his 936 holes played.
His team-mate Molinari is the only other European player ranked inside the top-20 at eighth, while USA’s Finau (12), Spieth (14), Johnson (16) and Dechambeau (19) occupy places in the top-20.
Incredibly, eight of America’s players are ranked inside the top 50 for greens in regulation, while only four European players make the cut.
Reed is the highest ranked American player at 149th, hitting just 64 per cent of greens. As for Europe, McIlroy needs to improve off the tee as he is ranked 108th at 66 per cent.
Advantage: Team USA
Team Europe: 74.7
Team USA: 130
Again, Stenson tops the charts on driving accuracy, hitting 74.79 per cent of fairways from his 60 rounds played on the PGA Tour.
For America, this is an area they struggle, with Rickie Fowler (54) the only player ranked inside the top-60.
In contrast, Europe have four players apart from Stenson ranked inside the top-60, with Rose (35), Poulter (37), Molinari (51) and Fleetwood (59) occupying the various positions.
Mickelson is third from bottom on driving accuracy at 192nd, while McIlroy is 156th with a meagre 56.68 per cent accuracy off the tee.
Advantage: Team Europe
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American Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk will make his final captain’s pick after the conclusion of the BMW Championship on Sunday night (early Monday morning UAE time).
Furyk – who last week named Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau as three of his four picks – will compete his line-up after the PGA Tour event in Philadelphia.
With Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele thought to be the most likely candidates to seal the final captain’s pick, we take a look at both players’ form in 2018.
The American has been superb this season, with top-10 finishes in the three major events – T10 at Augusta, fifth at Shinnecock Hills and T9 at Carnoustie.
His overall record in 2018 is rock solid, recording four top-5s, four top-10s and five top-25s in 21 starts, including second place at the Genesis Open and the Northern Trust.
The powerful Utah man, who ranks third on the PGA Tour in driving distance (316.3 yards), continues to find his way on the big stage and would be a serious addition to the American Ryder Cup team.
He is currently five shots off Schauffele heading into tonight’s final round of the BMW Championship. But it is unlikely that the result will bear much influence on Furyk’s thinking, unless the youngster wins in Philadelphia.
World ranking: 20
Wins in 2018: 0
Missed cuts: 5
Results in majors: T50-T6-T2-T35
The PGA Tour Rookie of the Year may have finished three spots above Finau (15th) in the Ryder cup points table on the strength of his finishes at The Players (T2), the US Open (T6) and the Open Championship (T2), but his overall consistency this season has been below par in contrast to his compatriot.
The California native has less top-10s (two to four) and top-25s (four to five) finishes than Finau, has missed more cuts (five against three) and is higher in the world rankings (20 to 17) and FedEx Cup standings (41 to 4).
On paper, Finau would appear to be favourite for the final wildcard pick, but a case would have to be made for Schauffele’s inclusion if he was to go on to win the BMW Championship tonight.
Sharpe – who won a host of honours with the Red Devils in Sir Alex Ferguson’s early tenure at Old Trafford – will take part in a charity golf event during the day on Thursday, September 13, before being the guest speaker at a question and answer session in the evening.
The event is part of the DHL Swing Against Cancer Golf Series and is being organised by Worldwide Golf and Sixteen10.
The occasion is held to support and raise awareness of treatment for three-year-old Mohammad Sameer Abdullah’s treatment, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
Sharpe, who won three Premier League titles and two FA Cups with United, established his own foundation after retiring, the Lee Sharpe Foundation, so was all too happy to get involved this week.
“I’ve had my own foundation for the last 12 years so I try and do my bit,” said the 47-year-old.
“We raise funds for children’s cancers and charities, stillborn charities, anything kid-related, we make a donation every year.
“As a footballer, I think it’s important to get involved in charitable events and causes because we can. You have the opportunity as a footballer and the support of a lot of people.
“It’s a family run charity, run by family friends Colin and Tina Booth who do a great job. We generally raise between £15-20,000 on the night of our annual gala dinner.”
Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis course will kick-off proceedings on Thursday, with the golf getting under way at 13:30 in a shotgun start.
That will be followed by a barbecue and refreshments and then an ‘evening with Lee Sharpe’, a former player renowned as one of the best after dinner speakers on the circuit.
The event and evening dinner are now sold out but interested parties are encouraged to get in touch via e-mail in order to be added to the waiting list.
Sharpe has been holidaying in Dubai for a number of years and can’t wait to get out on the course at Emirates GC.
“A friend of a friend, Steve Kelshaw, is sponsoring the event. I know him and a friend of his, Simon Hurd, who’s a golfer. They asked me if I fancied coming over to help out Mohammed,” added Sharpe, who joined United from Torquay in 1988 and played for the Red Devils for eight years, before leaving for rivals Leeds United in 1996.
“I love Dubai, the place, I love golf and to raise awareness for a good cause is always a bonus.
“I’ve been coming tom Dubai for the last 20-25 years maybe. I’ve seen a lot of changes but throughout all of them I still think the Emirates (golf club) is my favourite along with the Creek.
“I love coming over here. I love the place, the people, the service, the weather, the golf, it’s all five star.”
Sharpe won the PFA Young Player of the Year award while at United following the 1990/91 season, having helped the club to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup that season.
Other sporting and non-sporting celebrities to have taken part in the ever-growing series are Teddy Sheringham, Mike Tindall, Michael Campbell, Didi Hammann, Gary McAllister, Harry Redknapp as well as former Westlife singer Brian McFadden.
Matt Le Tissier is already confirmed for the grand final of the series, which also doubles up as the Mike Clark Golf Day on Thursday, November 1, which is also being played in Dubai, at Jumeirah Golf Estates.