J.B. Holmes of the United States sprays champagne after winning the Ryder Cup during the single matches in 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

(Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

What You Need To Know About This Weekend's 42nd Ryder Cup

KMOX's golf expert Dan Reardon sets up this weekend action at Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Paris.

September 24, 2018 - 4:52 pm
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One of golf's most exciting events is just days away and there's plenty to talk about before the U.S. and Europe teams hit the course in Paris. 

Our golf expert, Dan Reardon previews the top storylines to watch from the 42th annual Ryder Cup, happening at the Albatros Course of Le Golf National:

Momentum

If you believe in momentum the US has the upside. Seven of the 11 US players in the field in Atlanta for the Tour Championship finished in the Top-11, lead by Tiger Woods at No 2. Justin Rose was the only one of the six Europeans in the Top 10 with Rory McIlroy finishing No. 13.

Captains Choices

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson couldn’t be more of a contrast off their last tournament. Woods electrified the sport’s world with his two-shot win at the Tour Championship, restoring his standing in the game. Mickelson finished dead last in the field, 24 shots behind Woods.

Captains Choices Part II

The US has not won the Ryder Cup overseas in 25 years. Two players have been the largest contributors to those losses – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Out of 40 possible points the duo won 17 ½. Woods has a 9-2-8 record and Mickelson a miserable 6-3-12 total.

Captain Choices Part III

Ian Poulter was a lock for European Captain Thomas Bjorn because of his resurgence in 2018 and because of his past history 12-4-2. Sergio Garcia’s selection raised eyebrows, not because of his record – 19-11-7, but performances since his Masters win in 2017 – five consecutive missed cuts in the majors and ten overall MC’s vs ten Top 10’s over the same span.

Predictable Pairs

Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth would appear to be a lock for the US at the outset. In two Cups they are 4-1-2 as partners. Tiger Woods has been auditioning Bryson DeChambeau all summer and expected to be paired early. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka lift together, practice together and play the same clubs into greens because of their length. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson have played together in the past and were partners at the only paired event on the PGA Tour in New Orleans.

Golden Oldies

Both teams have players who are returning to the matches after absences. Paul Casey is on the European team for the first time since 2008. Both Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson missed being a part of the winning team at Hazeltine in 2016.

Rookies vs Rookies

The US has four rookies on the squad – Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau. Thomas has a major and was formerly ranked #1 in the world. Koepka has three majors win including consecutive US Opens and the PGA Championship at Bellerive. DeChambeau has three Tour wins in 2018 and Finau has one career win and eleven Top 10’s in 2018.

The Europeans have five rookies – Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Thorbjorn Olesen, Alex Noren. Rahm has won on the US Tour. Olesen has the only other win among the rookies in 2018 – the Italian Open.

French Connection

Some of the US players have played Le Golf National in Paris, site of the French Open. One US player has to hope the French galleries have short memories. In 2011 Bubba Watson complained about virtually every aspect of the tournament, said after the opening round “I miss my home,” and ingratiated himself to the French by highlighting his week’s visit to the French capital - “I don’t know the names of all the things, the big tower, Eiffel Tower, an arch (Arc de Triomphe), whatever I rode around in a circle,” he said. “And then what’s that – it starts with an ‘L’ – Louvre, something like that. One of those.”

Captains vs Captains

Thomas Bjorn has never been a part of a Ryder Cup loss in three appearances. His career playing record is week – 3-4-2. Jim Furyk has been on the winning side twice in nine US starts and his playing record mirrors the US struggles with 9-17-4.

Prediction

Disregard everything else and pay attention to only one stat – one putts. Whichever team accumulates the most one-putt greens will walk away with the Cup. It is expected Captain Bjorn will slow down the pace of the greens in France which will frustrate the Americans, especially Woods, who build their strokes to suit PGA Tour fast green speeds.