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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Ryder Cup: Europe and United States to start on even keel

Find out how rival golf teams compare ahead of showdown at Le Golf National in Paris this month

Thomas Bjorn, right, and his European Ryder Cup team will have home advantage, but the United States will be a challenge to beat. AP Photo
Thomas Bjorn, right, and his European Ryder Cup team will have home advantage, but the United States will be a challenge to beat. AP Photo

Jim Furyk's decision to name Tony Finau as his fourth and final wild card on Monday means both the United States and European teams for the Ryder Cup are now complete.

Here are how the two sides compare:

World Ranking

Justin Rose's runner-up finish at the BMW Championship on Monday saw the Englishman become world No 1 for the first time in his career. However, that is where the good news ends for Europe captain Thomas Bjorn. Americans occupy six of the top 10 positions and, although Europe hold the other four, the hosts also have four players ranked below the lowest US player Phil Mickelson, who sits 25th. The average ranking for Furyk's side is 11.75, with Europe's 18.5.

VERDICT: Advantage US

United States team member Tiger Woods is likely to attract plenty of attention at the Ryder Cup. AFP
United States team member Tiger Woods is likely to attract plenty of attention at the Ryder Cup. AFP

Major wins

America were already 12-6 ahead after both teams' eight automatic qualifiers were confirmed, but while Bjorn was able to boost Europe's tally to eight by picking Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, Furyk could call on the 19 major victories of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The US lead the category 31-8, have won three of 2018's four majors – Francesco Molinari's Open triumph bucking the trend - and 12 of the last 17 have been won by Americans.

VERDICT: Comprehensive US victory

Tommy Fleetwood will make his Ryder Cup debut this month. AFP
Tommy Fleetwood will make his Ryder Cup debut this month. AFP

Ryder Cup Record

Justin Thomas, Finau and Bryson DeChambeau are the only rookies on the US team, while Bjorn has five in his ranks with Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen all qualifying for the first time. However, of the seven Europeans with Ryder Cup experience, only Molinari averages less than half a point per match. America's team have 139 matches of Ryder Cup experience to Europe's 124, but much of it is negative, with Europe having collected 72.5 points to the 67 of the US, for whom Woods and Mickelson are among five players with losing records.

VERDICT: Advantage Europe

Justin Rose has hit form at just the right time, which will please his European teammates. AFP
Justin Rose has hit form at just the right time, which will please his European teammates. AFP

Form this year

On the face of it there is not much between the two sides, with the Americans having racked up 15 global victories in 2018 to Europe's 13. However, Furyk probably has more to worry about than Bjorn on this front, with Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed's form tailing off in recent weeks. And while US rookie DeChambeau cannot stop winning, Rose's rise and the consistency of Molinari is a boost for Bjorn, whose main concern will be Sergio Garcia's recent slump.

VERDICT: All square

Course Record

Only three of America's 12 players have played a competitive round at Le Golf National, and Thomas' tie for eighth at this year's Open de France is the only positive in this category for Furyk. Koepka missed the cut on his only appearance in 2013 and Watson not only went home after two rounds in 2011, but also offended the locals by complaining about the behaviour of spectators and referring to the Eiffel Tower as "the big tower" and the Arc de Triomphe as "an arch, whatever I rode around in a circle" during a press conference. Hatton is the only member of the European Tour not to record a top-10 finish at the Versailles venue, where Noren and Fleetwood have won in the last two years.

VERDICT: Comprehensive Europe victory