91 years on from the very first Ryder Cup – and some 39 years on from the ‘British’ team allowing in players from across Europe, we find golf a rather different game. Its rules haven’t altered all that much down the years, but the quality and enormous sums of money involved in the sport certainly have. Yet while tournament fees and prize money are astronomical in the modern professional game, there’s one competition where no one cares about the cash. If there are two days of golf that American and European pros look forward to more than any other, it’s the Ryder Cup weekend.
In what is a true solo sport, it’s a rare occasion for some of the world’s best players to converge, become a team and fight an old foe. The 2018 Ryder Cup is not only a huge event for players, but for golf fans too. In fact, so popular is it that plenty of people that don’t even follow the sport will be tuning in to catch the action.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Ryder Cup…
When is it on?
This year’s Ryder Cup golf championship between the States and Europe is on this weekend – the 28th until the 30th September. It starts in earnest on the Friday (8.10am local time – that’s 7.10am UK time) and wraps up on Sunday afternoon/evening. The draw for the pairs will be made on Thursday night after the opening ceremony.
Where’s it happening?
This year the action takes place in Paris. So it’s Europe that are effectively the home team, with the Americans surrendering the advantage. The venue is the spectacularly-name ‘Le Golf National’, the Albatros Course, which can be found just outside of Paris. In a suburb just southwest of the French capital called Guyancourt. It marks only the second ever Ryder Cup to be played on mainland Europe (the other being the 1997 contest which was staged in Spain).
How can I watch it?
The BBC will be showing the Ryder Cup, but only highlights of it. For live coverage of the weekend-long tournament, fans will need to tune into Sky Sports. There’ll be build up all week before the first tee-off and no doubt seriously forensic analysis of each twist, turn and shot. Or you can head to Rileys to watch all the action, of course.
Who are the captains and who have they picked?
The two teams of twelve will play out 28 match play ties over the three days, with some 14.5 points the total required to take home the trophy. Captaining the US is the legendary figure of Jim Furyk and heading up the European side is the equally legendary Thomas Bjørn of Sweden.
Vice-captains: Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood.
Team: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.
Captain’s picks: Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson.
Vice-captains: David Duval, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
Team: Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas.
Captain’s picks: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau and Bryson DeChambeau.
What are the captains saying?
“You leave ego at the door when you take this job. It’s a really strong team. There are a few newcomers in there but lots of strong names and people I have a lot of trust in. This is an exciting European team and I’m really looking forward to being with this group of players. It’s nice to see that it’s coming around quick and I hope we can do Europe proud.”
“These are 24 of the best players in the world and, when they go up against each other, they are all capable of amazing things on both sides. We don’t fear anyone because we’ve played against them so many times before individually but we respect our opponents and know what we are up against.
“We’ll go out and do what we can and play our game. What stands on the other side, we know, is one of the strongest American teams of all time. We know we’ve got to play our best to come up against this team and that’s what’s in front of us. We do what we do as a European team and then we go out and take that on the golf course, and that’s all twelve Americans. It’s not one individual. It’s the whole team that we are up against.”
“They know this course extremely well. They have played the French Open there for 25 years. They love it. It’s a great course, massive greens, a lot of unique pin placements. Our big work is getting ready for that course and we’ll have a very short period of time in person to do that when we are there in France.”
“I started to be reminded about that the moment I took this opportunity as captain. There’s not like a big 25 sitting in there anywhere. They are well aware of it and they are well aware of how difficult it is to win in Europe.”
“When you look at now, maybe comparing past Ryder Cups to this one, I think what’s so special is Tiger has ingrained himself in our team atmosphere. He became such a big part of the team in 2016 as a vice-captain, and then again in 2017 as an assistant captain at the Presidents Cup. I think it’s special for him now to join these younger players as a teammate.”
The past 10 Ryder Cup results
2016: United States won (17 points – 11 points)
2014: Europe won (16.5 – 11.5)
2012: Europe won (14.5 – 13.5)
2010: Europe won (14.5 – 13.5)
2008: United States won (16.5 – 11.5)
2006: Europe won (18.5 – 9.5)
2004: Europe won (18.5 – 9.5)
2002: Europe won (15.5 – 12.5)
1999: United States won (14.5 – 13.5)
1997: Europe won (14.5 – 13.5)
What are the odds like?
The odds for a winner are tight, though there is a slight favourite. The USA have most of the current top ten ranked golfers in the world, however Team Europe boast a team with masses of Ryder Cup-winning experience. So there’s not a huge amount in it. Despite being away from home, the Americans are favourites at just under evens. Europe are available at a best-priced 13/10. Draws are uncommon but not unheard of, you can back that result at 12s.
Points-wise, if you think America will scrape it and win by 1-3 points, that’s 3/1. Europe to win by the same margin is 15/4.
Perhaps the best route for longer shot fun bets is picking out the top-scoring player from each side. You’ll first need to work out who you think will be involved in most of the sessions and then pick your man from there. Dustin Johnson is the 11/2 favourite for the USA, with Brooks Koepka not far behind. Tiger can be nibbled at at 15/2. As for Europe? Well, world number one Justin Rose is just 4/1 to outscore his teammates. With McIlroy 9/2.
What are Rileys’ predictions?
We’ve got a good feeling about this being a seriously impressive sporting highlight. And a seriously close call. European captain Thomas Bjorn has seemingly picked his mates and opted for experience over current form in his wildcard picks. However with characters like Ian Poulter and the Ryder Cup being a match made in heaven, they’ll be plenty of spirit. Out of the whole European team, ‘The Fella in the Trousers’ optimises what the competition is all about; passion, desire, gusto and the all important Poulter fist pump.
Don’t get us wrong, we’ll be backing Team Europe all weekend. But we’re going with our heads over our hearts here and plumping for an American win this time out. We just think their one-on-one firepower will edge out their opponents in a really rather close encounter. We’re going to say that the USA win by a point or two.
As for top scorers, Tommy Fleetwood is our Euro rookie to watch out for, don’t be surprised to get a positive return if you back him. As for the Americans, with his 2018 renaissance, it could be Tiger’s year to shine. Although Justin Thomas at 7/1 appeals for Top American scorer; most golf fans can’t quite believe this chap is a Ryder Cup rookie, it seems like he’s been around forever. Thomas sits third in the world rankings, is sure to light up Team USA and become a real force in Ryder Cups to come.
Do America have their own Ian Poulter character? Well, he may not quite have the same taste in slacks, but Patrick Reed certainly has Poulteresque passion. Reed has done something that not many of Team USA have done in previous years… Really embraced the Ryder Cup. The man exudes passion, firepower and could be behind a real response to Team Europe’s recent dominance. The 2018 Master’s champion will play a major part in the success this time out. Patrick Reed is 9/1 to top score for his team.
We will be showing live Ryder Cup coverage and highlights throughout the weekend. For exact details on your nearest Rileys’ plans, you can call or pop in and ask. It’s bound to be an awesome weekend of sport that can only be enhanced with a few drinks, a bite to eat and a couple of games of pool…