Most of the world's greatest golfers will visit France at the end of September for the 42nd Ryder Cup, at the Golf National in Guyancourt, near Paris
St. Louis (AFP) - Most of the world’s greatest golfers will visit France next month for the 42nd Ryder Cup, with US and Europe captains predicting a “battle of giants” in the heated rivalry.
The biennial showdown coming September 28-30 at Le Golf National near Paris will match holders United States, who haven’t won on European soil since 1993, against a Europe squad that won six of seven before falling in 2016.
“I think you’ve got a battle of two giants,” US captain Jim Furyk said. “You look at the world rankings right now, the top 20 players, they’re dominated by Europeans and Americans.
“They’re going to have a really strong team, possibly the strongest team Europe has ever fielded. We have our hands full.”
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, third-ranked Justin Rose and British Open champion Francesco Molinari are likely to be European stalwarts once the side is finalized in early September.
2018 European Ryder Cup Team Captain Thomas Bjorn speaks to the media during a press conference prior to the PGA Championship, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 7
“These guys know each other so well, they play together pretty much every week now, and both teams are going to relish the chance of having a go at each other,” European captain Thomas Bjorn of Denmark said. “Both teams are going to be great.”
World number one Dustin Johnson, second-ranked Justin Thomas, Masters champion Patrick Reed and two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka have sealed berths on the American side.
“The American team is going to be one of the strongest ever and it won’t be easy at all for us in Paris,” Molinari said. “We need to get prepared and raring to go and make life hard for them on the course in Paris.”
Singing and chanting fans will bring a unique and boisterous atmosphere to the typical calm and quiet of a golf event.
“What goes on at a Ryder Cup, it’s like basically a football game breaks out in the middle of a golf tournament,” said Furyk. “You want guys who have that fire and that passion and you believe will thrive in that type of atmosphere.
2018 US Ryder Cup Team Captain Jim Furyk speaks during a press conference prior to the PGA Championship, at Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri, on August 8
“We’re looking at 51,000 fans coming to these events each day. You’re not going to combat 48,000 Europeans excited about their team. That European crowd is incredible and they’re going to make a lot of noise.”
The Americans lead the all-time rivalry 26-13 with two drawn but Europe owns an edge of 10-8 with one drawn since its team expanded from Britain and Ireland in 1979. The last US win in Europe was at England’s Belfry a quarter-century ago.
“It has been 25 years. They’ve had a lot of success and we’ll be looking to try to break that,” Furyk said, noting he won’t shy away from rookies when he and Bjorn make captain’s picks to complete the rosters in September.
“I loved having the rookies on the team, seeing the fire in their eyes, seeing the spark they provided,” Furyk said.
- ‘Thinker’s golf course’ -
Both captains praise Le Golf National as a stunning stage for the drama golf’s greatest will provide.
“It really is a thinker’s golf course,” Bjorn said. “It’s a ball-striker’s golf course as well. It just asks questions of everything in your game.”
“I love the golf course,” Furyk said. “I understand why Europeans like it so much, why they’ve been so fond of the course and talk so highly about it.
“It’s a tight course. It’s not overly long. What strikes me is it’s a really good second-shot golf course. Good iron players and good putters will be very successful.”