U.S. Team Looks to Defend Title in 42nd Ryder Cup

The 42nd Ryder Cup will have fans from around the world glued to their televisions this week as golf’s best from the United States and Europe face off in match play rounds to determine a victor. A biennial event, this year’s Ryder Cup will be played at the Albatros Course at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, France. Though the U.S. team comes in as defending champion, it has lost the last five Ryder Cups that have been held in Europe. And, of course, there are plenty of intriguing storylines to examine heading into this highly anticipated event.

The U.S. team, led by non-playing captain Jim Furyk, is stacked with some of the biggest names on the PGA Tour, including Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Woods will likely attract the most attention throughout the tournament as this will be his first Ryder Cup appearance since 2012 at Medinah Country Club in Illinois. He is coming off an immense victory in the Tour Championship this past weekend, marking his 80th career victory and his first since 2013. This summer, Tiger has shown flashes of his former successful play, but this most recent win in perhaps the biggest non-major tournament solidifies the fact that he is back and ready to compete at the highest level.

Koepka should be another intriguing player to track in his second career Ryder Cup. The 28-year-old American has already displayed his ability to perform on some of golf ’s biggest stages. Though he only has four wins on the PGA Tour, three of those hap- pen to be major victories, including impressive showings at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship this past summer. Koepka may not have the same level of consistency as a Phil Mickelson or a Dustin Johnson, but when he is locked in, there may not be a golfer on the planet that can challenge him. He plays extremely well in high-pressure situations, so his play will be crucial for the U.S.’s success at Le Golf National this weekend.

The Europe team is also stacked with in- credible players from across the continent. Non-playing Danish captain Thomas Bjorn has compiled quite an array of talent, both young and old. It will be very interesting to see whether or not they can defend their home turf against the Americans.

Players such as Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Justin Rose (England), Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) and Francesco Molinari (Italy) will all be competing to try and bring home a victory for Europe. Rose is an especially intriguing player this weekend, as he is one of the most consistent and talented golfers on tour. The #1-ranked player in the World Golf Rankings is no stranger to Ryder Cup success, as he has appeared in four previous tournaments, boasting a solid 11-6-2 record in his matches. Rose certainly has the ability to outplay any American opponent he faces, and because of the European team’s relatively young roster, his experience will be extremely valuable.

Stenson is another veteran that the Europe team will lean on for leadership and consistency this weekend. Arguably the best ball-striker on tour, the 42-year-old Swede is a very tough opponent in match play formats. Like Koepka, Henrik does not have a ton of wins. That being said, Stenson still has numerous top 10 finishes in majors throughout his career, including a victory in the Open Championship in 2016. The key factor for him this weekend is his putting. Stenson’s full swing ability puts him in a regular position for success, so if he can find a way to drill some big putts, he can really light it up at Le Golf National.

The Ryder Cup is what golf is all about. It is great for the fans, the media and the players, as it turns a normally individual sport into a team-oriented game. Fans and players root hard for their respective sides, and everyone shows pride for their nations. It really is one of the most beautiful parts of the game, and with such incredible lineups, this year’s tournament will surely be an unbelievable event.

Contact Ethan Marchetti at [email protected].