Members of the Junior Ryder Cup line up ahead of the draw for the 42nd edition of the tournament in Paris on Thursday. Image courtesy europeantour.com.
By Rahul Banerji
FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose of England and Spain’s Jon Rahm open the Ryder Cup against the USA’s Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau at the Le Golf National near Paris on Friday.
It is the first of 28 matches that comprise the 2018 version of the trans-Atlantic competition.
Thursday evening’s formal draw saw rival captains Thomas Bjorn (Europe) and Jim Furyk (USA) introduce their teams and announce the pairings for the four-balls at an opening ceremony attended by close to 40,000 fans.
Tiger tees off last
Tour Championship winner and top draw Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed play Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in the final match on Friday morning’.
In other match-ups, Europe’s Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen meet USA’s Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton then play Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the third rubber of this 42nd edition of the competition.
It is the first time the Ryder Cup is being played in France.
Defending champions the USA last won on European soil in 1993 but start favourites this time riding high on the form of 2018 double-major winner Koepka and the resurgent Tiger Woods.
Friday morning’s fourball pairings
Rose and Rahm (Europe) v Koepka and Finau (USA)
McIlroy and Olesen (Europe) v Johnson and Fowler (USA)
Casey and Hatton (Europe) v Spieth and Thomas (USA)
Molinari and Fleetwood (Europe) v Woods and Reed (USA)
USA are favourites
The form book too tips Team USA who have 31 majors between them against eight the European can boast of.
Besides US Open and PGA Championship winner Koepka, USA have Masters champion Reed in the ranks while the hosts muster Open champion Molinari in their 12-man team.
Italy’s Molinari got the better of Woods’ at Carnoustie on his way to winning the British Open this July. He lines up alongside the in-form Fleetwood, one among four European debutants at this year’s competition.
The other three are Rahm, Olesen and Hatton.
The Cat factor
Team USA’s biggest boost – in addition to all the titles they have totted up this year – is Tiger Woods’ 80th career Tour victory that came after a five-year gap just last Sunday.
The 42-year-old superstar returned to the PGA Tour only last November at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas after the last of four back surgeries. Since then, Woods has seen his world ranking surge from 1,199th to 13th at last count.
According to bbc.com, the USA have the edge in terms of world rankings with an average standing per player of 11, eight places higher than Europe’s 19.
A total of 28 matches, each worth one point, will take place over three days.
The first team to reach 14½ points will win and if scores are at 14-14 on Sunday, America retain the trophy after their victory at Hazeltine two years ago.
Four-ball and foursome matches will be played on Friday and Saturday. In the four- balls, the player that shoots the lowest score on each hole wins it for his team.
In the foursomes, only one ball per team is in play with players taking alternate shots with the lowest score wining the hole. Holes are halved if shots taken are level.
Twelve singles matches that follow the match play format are reserved for Sunday.