- The USA haven’t enjoyed the greatest success in recent times, winning just four of a possible 15 Ryder Cup titles since 1985. However, the team enter this tournament full of optimism following a successful year for Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker, both of whom have collected Major titles in 2016. The nation can also boast five of the ten best golfers in the world according to the latest rankings, with four of these players taking to the course at Hazeltine to restore the USA’s golfing pride.
- Europe are aiming to secure their fourth straight Ryder Cup title, a feat that has not been achieved since the continent began competing for the crown in 1979. Darren Clarke has opted for a mixture of fresh blood and seasoned professionals, with six of the 12 players making their debut in the competition. The team includes this year’s Masters winner Danny Willett and Open champion Henrik Stenson, while Clarke will hope that the younger members of his squad will be able to benefit from the inclusion of Ryder Cup veteran Lee Westwood, who will be participating in his tenth consecutive contest.
The USA enter this year’s Ryder Cup on the back of a three-tournament losing streak, but head to Hazeltine as odds-on favourites to lift the trophy. Davis Love III captained the team in 2012 and will want to avoid another defeat on home soil after he watched his side blow a four point lead on the final day in what was dubbed the ‘Miracle at Medinah’. However, the team look considerably stronger than their European counterparts this time around, and the big-game experience of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson could prove a deciding factor.
It’s worth keeping an eye the longest-serving member of the USA’s team, Phil Mickelson, as the 46-year-old makes his eleventh straight appearance in a competition. Making his debut in 1995, ‘Lefty’ is able to boast an impressive run of results in the fourballs and singles, while only four defeats from 14 in the foursomes doesn’t make for bad reading either. It will also be hoped that Mickelson’s Ryder Cup know-how will be able to inspire Rickie Fowler to reach his full potential at Hazeltine. The fans-favourite has made two previous appearances in the competition and is a 4/1 bet to be the top wildcard, but is yet to win a Ryder Cup match outright.
Europe make the trip across the Atlantic as underdogs, with the noise of the Hazeltine home supporters likely to act as a huge distraction to the younger members of the squad. The experience of players like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer will no doubt be called upon should the team begin to struggle, but the English trio of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood could be an unknown quantity that the US simply do not know how to deal with.
What Europe do have is recent winners, with Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, who is 4/1 to be the top rookie and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose, all of whom will be looking to add to their 2016 successes. Golfing posterboy Rory McIlroy will also be determined to maintain his run of never having failed to lift the Ryder Cup. The Northern Irishman has a perfect record when it comes to this tournament following victories in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and will certainly not want to let that slip. A decent back catalog of foursomes and singles results could also fill the 27-year-old with the confidence he needs to inspire the team, odds of 10/3 that he will be Europe’s top player.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Europe to win the Ryder Cup - 15/8
*Please note that odds may fluctuate.