Hole19 Predicts: 2018 European Ryder Cup Team
In just under twelve months, European captain Thomas Bjorn will lead twelve men into battle against the best dozen golfers his American counterpart Jim Furyk can muster in the 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup
By the end of September next year we will know whether Bjorn's side managed to halt the Team USA's Ryder Cup recovery by winning on home soil, or if indeed the Americans have backed up their impressive Hazeltine National win and rubbed further salt into already gaping European wounds.
You can catch a recap below of Team USA's final steps to glory back in 2016:
Anyway, let's take a look at the qualification process and our Team Europe prediction.
The European Ryder Cup team for Le Golf National in 2018 will consist of:
- The top four players in the Race to Dubai Points List
- The top four players in the World Points List who have not already qualified, and
- Four captain's picks
Any points earned from the 2018 BMW PGA Championship onwards will be multiplied by 1.5. Bjorn has put this in place to ensure that he has in-form players at his disposal and ready to help wrestle the Ryder Cup back from American clutches.
Who would we choose?
Tyrrell Hatton seems sure to be one of the automatic qualifiers for next year's tussle with the Americans. He heads both points lists and displays all the passion and competitiveness you would expect from a European Ryder Cup player.
Although Rory McIlroy fails to make any of the eight automatic picks in the current standing, having rested and recuperated after a somewhat stop-start 2017, we firmly expect that the Northern Irishman will be back to somewhere near his best next year. He makes it.
The 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson is highly likely to be on the 12-man team, and he brings experience and coolness which testifies to his famous 'Iceman' persona.
Now pushing 40, Sergio Garcia will be the 'elder statesman' in Team Europe. He has an exceptional pedigree in Ryder Cups and, with the burdensome tag of 'best never to win a major' now shed after his 2017 win at Augusta National, expect to see a strong showing.
Fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm will play in his first Ryder Cup just two years after turning professional and, with two wins in his first 12 months, he will be highly deserving of a place in Bjorn's side. The current world number five will need to channel his fieriness if he is to enjoy a positive start to his career in European colours.
Justin Rose, golf's current Olympic champion, sits in a healthy position within the World Points List and seems nailed on for one of the European Jackets come September 2018.
Perhaps he should come to Paris with another €100 in his pocket. Last year at Hazeltine National he challenged an American heckler to 'putt for dough' and he pulled it off with some aplomb.
Wins at the HNA Open de France in July (at Le Golf National) and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship back in January have Tommy Fleetwood well positioned to break his Ryder Cup 'duck' next year.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello is warming to life on the PGA Tour and this coupled with an undeniable consistency on the European Tour will, we hope, help complete a trio of Spaniards at next year's tournament. He captured 2.5 points from his three matches in Minnesota last year - that's a mightily impressive haul for a rookie.
Another rookie who impressed at Hazeltine National was Thomas Pieters. The big Belgian struck up a fruitful relationship with Rory McIlroy and it may be that the European captain looks to that pairing again in 2018. He will have to recapture his form to muscle into automatic contention or Bjorn may have to consider his credentials as a wildcard pick.
Alex Noren was overlooked by Darren Clarke for last year's Ryder Cup after enjoying a trophy-laden 2016 which, up to that point, had included four separate European Tour wins. He then went on to rub salt into the European captain's wounds by winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November for an incredible fifth win of the year. Expect Thomas Bjorn to give the Swede the place he deserves.
Matt Fitzpatrick has an abundance of talent, but it was somewhat of a baptism of fire at last year's Ryder Cup. Zero points from two matches is not what the young Englishman will have been hoping for, but we expect 2018 to tip the balance in his favour for a starting berth at Le Golf National.
Bit of an outside shout this one but Paul Dunne is starting to come to the fore and now he's playing the sort of golf that makes Ryder Cup captains sit up and take notice.
A win at the British Masters has helped the Irishman into the top four of both points lists. Further success from here on in could secure an automatic pick or, if he just misses out, may encourage Bjorn to give him a Ryder Cup debut.
So, for what it's worth, here's our team:
Hatton, McIlroy, Stenson, Garcia, Rahm, Rose, Fleetwood, Cabrera-Bello, Pieters, Noren, Fitzpatrick and Dunne.
What do you think of Hole19's 'Team Europe'? Who would make your 12-man squad? Let us know below.