The bookies have both sides almost identical which seems right.
The Americans have the world number one – Scottie Scheffler – who is experiencing putting problems and has never played a Ryder Cup foursomes – and number five Patrick Cantlay, meanwhile the Europeans have numbers two (Rory McIlroy), three (Jon Rahm ) and four (Victor Hovland).
In their automatic picks the Americans have two major winners of 2023 – Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman – who are rookies along with Max Homa, whilst there is only one debutant as automatic pick for Europe – Robert Macintyre. Macintyre and rookie Nicolai Hojgaard have both won the Italian Open at the Marco Simone course
The American captain Zack Johnson has gone for the experience of Ricky Fowler, Justin Thomas (who is off form), Jordan Spieth and Collin Morakawa and rookie Sam Burns for his picks – whilst Luke Donald has chosen Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Sepp Straka and young Ludwig Aberg.
It’s hard to separate the two, but home advantage and the Marco Simone course – which demands accuracy rather than length – should favour Team Europe.
Much will depend on the pairings and the intriguing question is “Who will McIlroy partner?”
The smart money is on Tommy Fleetwood but I would not be at all surprised if either Justin Rose or a rookie does not partner him.
The Ryder Cup is one of those delightfully anachronistic events that sport and life throws up.
Golf is an individual not a team sport.
Foursomes are usually played at weekends at posh golf clubs; there is no big transatlantic divide as Rahm and Novland were products of college golf and many Europeans playing the US PGA have made their homes there – European captain Luke Donald lives in Chicago and Rory McIlroy’s neighbour in Florida is Jack Nicklaus. Another oddity is that you might expect by its very name alonevthe USA to have more esprit de corpus than a Europe the most divided since 1945 comprising 11 countries in the team but not so. A tearful Mcilroy after last time’s defeat in Whistling. a straits admitted how much he enjoyed being part of the team even though the young McIlroy dismissed the event as mere exhibition golf.
Great Britain withdrew from Europe after Brexit and casting a giant shadow is LIV, causing the absence of hardy perennials like Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Captain America Patrick Reed.
The Ryder Cup throws up unlikely heroes like Constantino Rocca who beat Toger Woods 4&2 in Valderrama in 1977 , Canizares and Christy O’ Connor Junior .
I can hardly wait till Friday and the Pargie tenner will be on Europe to extend the period of American defeat on away soil to 34 years.