Ryder Cup 2018: How Team Europe can win in Paris
Team USA is in a rich vein of form, of that there can be no doubt. In the lead-up to the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, few will deny that the Americans have at their disposal an embarrassment of riches in terms of pure golfing talent.
They have three 2017 major winners within their ranks and are the reigning Ryder Cup champions after a comfortable six-point victory over their European rivals at Hazeltine back in 2016.
Are they shoo-ins for back-to-back Ryder Cups? If you listen to some commentators then, despite the 25-year wait for a win on foreign soil, it would seem so.
We're rather more expectant that it won't be just as one-sided as all that and, to help whet the appetite, here's few reasons why.
Having home advantage cannot be underestimated in the Ryder Cup. Though the atmosphere at Le Golf National is not likely to be as partisan and hostile as the Europeans encountered at times in Minnesota last time out, the boys in blue know how to generate thunderous noise, and usually without stepping over any lines of decorum.
Not since 1993 at The Belfry has the 'Stars and Stripes' been unfurled on European soil in glorious victory. If Jim Furyk's team are to buck that trend they will have to overcome boisterous home support.
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By the time we're primed to get underway in Paris next September it is highly possible that three Spaniards will be donning European blue in a quest to right the wrongs of two years previous at Hazeltine Country Club.
2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia will almost certainly be joined by last season's European Tour Rookie of the Year Jon Rahm, while Rafa Cabrera-Bello's inclusion for a second straight event looks like a reasonably safe bet.
The last time a Spanish trio wrestled the Americans in golf's greatest team event was back 1999 when a youthful Garcia was joined by Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez in European ranks. On this occasion, a famous Team USA rally in Sunday's singles led to victory by a solitary point for Ben Crenshaw's men
European team captain Thomas Bjorn talks about the prospect of a Ryder Cup debut for Jon Rahm below:
Despite their aforementioned lacklustre defeat at Hazeltine National last time out, of the previous ten editions of the Ryder Cup Europe have prevailed in all but two.
Perhaps more striking is the fact that on each of the previous two occasions the Ryder Cup was claimed by the Americans, their counterparts have won the next three.
For this very reason, Furyk has stated that his side has it all to prove and must back up their 2016 win in order to turn the tide of previous European dominance.
One of the most famous European victories in recent times was, of course, the Miracle of Medinah:
A rejuvenated Rory?
If Rory finds his form this year on a personal level, Team Europe will undoubtedly benefit. The last 18 months have not been kind to the Northern Irishman on the course and he has designed a jam-packed schedule in early 2018 in order to be competitive at Augusta National in April.
His partnership with the big Belgian Thomas Pieters was one of the few highlights of 2016's defeat and, if paired with a player who can bring the best out of him, we expect the four-time major champ to be firing all on cylinders. The Americans may hope that Rory's revival is further delayed.
He was certainly pumped up when squaring off against Patrick Reed last time out:
To balance the books a little, it's undoubtedly the case that the Americans have a wealth of talent at their disposal and will be formidable opponents for Bjorn's men come 28th September. If Europe can bounce back and be at the top of their game we could be in for a real humdinger of a contest.
In any case, we can't wait!
Team US are early favourites to win the Ryder Cup - Here's why.
What do you think of Team Europe's chances this year? Who could make the difference on both sides? Let us know below.