2018 Ryder Cup picks: Grading the teams put forth by the United States and Europe
Now that Tony Finau has been added to the U.S. team, it's time to take a look at the two squads
The United States has added Tony Finau and his 15 straight rounds in the 60s to its already loaded 2018 Ryder Cup team. This means that, going into the Tour Championship, all 12 players on the U.S. side are ranked in the top 25 in the world with Phil Mickelson being the lowest at No. 25.
Europe isn't quite as stacked, but what it lacks in current form they make up for in experience. For example, Sergio Garcia is ranked No. 29 in the world and has been downright lousy this season, but does anyone on the U.S. team want to go against one of the all-time great Ryder Cup golfers with a 19-11-7 overall record? I seriously doubt it.
The U.S. has experience, too, though. It might just not be the right kind of experience. How about this stat? The last time Tiger Woods played on a winning Ryder Cup team was ... last century.
Europe holds the advantage in rookies with five first-timers to just three for the U.S. Of course the three rooks on the U.S. side are ranked Nos. 4, 8 and 15 in the world, which is kind of staggering. Enough about the overall look of the teams, though. Let's just take a gander at them in order of world ranking and see which side has the advantage overall.
Remember, I'm doing this based on match play at a Ryder Cup and not necessarily based on who is a better pure golfer or who has been better this season. Numbers listed next to names are the competitors' Official World Golf Rankings.
Justin Rose (1)
Dustin Johnson (2)
D.J. is obviously great, but Rose is the better Ryder Cup golfer and has been playing better overall golf at the end of the season.
Francesco Molinari (5)
Brooks Koepka (3)
Koepka was an absolute force in the last Ryder Cup at Hazeltine. Molinari, despite a great season, has never won a full point at the Ryder Cup.
Rory McIlroy (6)
Justin Thomas (4)
Have mercy, this is a good matchup. I give the nod to Rory because I would probably give the nod to Rory over 1930 Bobby Jones after the unholy things he did at the last Ryder Cup.
Jon Rahm (7)
Bryson DeChambeau (8)
You could call it either way here between two rookies, but I'll go with the dude who has won two of his last three tournaments.
Tommy Fleetwood (12)
Rickie Fowler (9)
I have a confession here. I think Fleetwood is going to absolutely slay at the Ryder Cup. He's the prefect blend of calm and excitable. I can see him turning into a crowd favorite and going something like 3-1-1 with 9,000 birdies.
Alex Noren (16)
Jordan Spieth (10)
This one is a pillow fight given how both have been playing of late. I'll go with Spieth because I think he's more capable of finding it at any moment.
Paul Casey (19)
Bubba Watson (13)
Bubba's career Ryder Cup record is 3-8-0.
Henrik Stenson (23)
Patrick Reed (14)
I wouldn't take Winston Churchill over Patrick Reed at a Ryder Cup even if the sides were playing Risk.
Tyrrell Hatton (26)
Tony Finau (15)
What an awesome matchup between two smoking rookies.
Sergio Garcia (29)
Webb Simpson (17)
It begs the question of just how poorly Garcia would have to be playing for me to not take him over pretty much anyone on the U.S. team.
Ian Poulter (34)
Tiger Woods (21)
Come at me. Poulter wasn't good in 2014 (0-1-2), and Tiger has been a monster all season.
Thorbjorn Olesen (44)
Phil Mickelson (25)
It's a heck of a thing for the U.S. to be bringing up the rear with two of the 10 greatest players in the history of the sport. Olesen might be out of his world in Paris.
That's a 7-5 advantage for the U.S. based on the current world rankings. You could probably reorder that and elicit a tie or a big U.S. advantage (9-3 or something like that), but based on the current rankings, I think it's pretty fair.
It also speaks to the fact that for the first time in a while the U.S. will be a heavy favorite on European soil. They may have been a slight favorite several times over the past two decades but nothing like this. That makes for what should be a fascinating buildup to the matches in Paris here in two weeks and an environment -- with some all-time Ryder Cup lions on the European side -- for what could be one of the great set of matches in the history of this event.
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