Pittsburgh, PA: The US Team has not won on European Soil since 1993 when they played at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Twenty five years later, that is the task at hand for the US Team to retain the Ryder Cup at the Tournament hosted Europe at Le Golf National in France.
The Albatros Course is one of three golf courses on the property and will be the battle ground for this years Ryder Cup. First planned back in 1985, the facility and course opened in October of 1990. It has been the host of the French Open since 1991 and has quickly become one of the best courses in the world.
It’s a flat course that marries a little of the old links style courses of Europe with some of the new more modern PGA Style clubs you find not just in the US but all over the world. As a fan and player, slick greens and wide open fairways are joined with some deep bunkering like we see at some of the great links style courses. The long grasses in the rough also give the course that old world feel.
The flat makeup with rolling fairways reminds me of many Nicklaus designs I have played in the Carolina’s. There are some shorter par fours with interesting bunker placement which also reminds me of some of the Signature Palmer Designed courses. The rough is deep and the greens are gigantic which is something the US team is not used to playing. Tiger Woods remarked that one of the greens is 58 yards deep or long.
The European team has been playing this course for years, where as the US team has not seen it nearly as often, and in many cases not at all. So from that standpoint, the European team has a bit of an advantage. Not to mention the host organization gets to play a part in course set up. With that said, what makes this years Cup so great is the fact that none of that may matter.
Ryder Cup 2018, Why It’s so special
We will be seeing the best Two teams with regard to world rankings we have ever seen. The US Team boasts 11 of the top 20 players in the world with Phil Mickelson not being in that group sitting at 25th in the World. The European Team will have 5 of the top 20 players in the world. This is far and away the best grouping of talent we have seen in this tournament ever.
Pair that up with the fact that the venue and how it was designed with the mix of old and new in mind. It sets the scene for what will be a historic event regardless of outcome.
Team Thoughts and Opinion
The New York Yankee year in and out have the best talent money can buy, but that talent does not always gel which is why they do not win every year. So in the same breath, just because the US Team has the best talent on the course, does not mean they are a slam dunk win. The odds makers think they will win, but winning on foreign soil is hard for any team and this year will be no different.
The Fact that the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup is now played on opposite years has turned into a bit of an advantage for the US Team as they continue to transform their team into more of what we have seen from the European team for years and years. Many of the same players are playing on these teams year in and year out so a bond is forming among the team.
Obviously there are new faces every year, but that is what makes this set up so great for the US. Many of the same players are there while they get to mix in some newer or rookie players so that they can develop a feel for future tournaments.
The Dumpster Dive
What pairings we will see for week has been the real story, especially on the US Team. The main stream media has done a deep dumpster dive on why we may not see Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth paired together. Why it is so hard to pair Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods with other players. Dealing with the monster Egos on the US Team. Not to mention who will sit and who will not sit depending on the day or situation.
How about who plays with the rookies this week? My writing partner loves to talk about putting the rookies together because of their enthusiasm and what they don’t know about the tournament can help them. While I also believe that works, I am rarely in the opinion it should be done. I like pairing the rookies with guys that have been there and done that.
The fact is, the only people who really know are those involved with setting up the teams and likely the teams themselves. If you have been following the practice rounds to get an idea of pairings, think again. The practice rounds from Jim Furyk’s standpoint have been about getting to know the golf course. He stated that in his Wednesday Presser. Although don’t be surprised to see some of the pairings from the practice rounds repeated.
Furyk is not only the US Team Captain, but he is one of the greatest players in US History. Although his win total does not jump off the page at you, his consistency over time is unprecedented. He has a lot of Ryder Cup Experience not to mention the experience of working along side or on teams with the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. He understands the history and just how hard it is to win in Europe.
Jim has surrounded himself with former captains and experienced players in this venue to help guide his team to a win this week. From the outside looking in, this team is built for winning and winning big.
Tournament and Pairings
On Friday and Saturday you will see a session each of fourball matches and foursomes. Then on Sunday it will be 12 singles matches. The Pairings will be based on both Statistics and personality and finding a mesh of the two per Jim Furykstate as hestated in his presser “it has to be a little of both.”
Captain America Patrick Reed
I do not think we will see Reed and Spieth paired together because of some of the comments we have heard throughout the year from the different mediums by Patrick Reed. I do not think the relationship is soiled, but I do believe the chemistry we saw in the last Ryder Cup is likely not repeatable. Reed is a Fiery player although he has not really played well in weeks which is a challenge for Furyk.
I think we could see Mickelson and Finau paired up because of how consistent Tony is which offsets how sporadic Phil’s game tends to be. Tony Finau is also a Rookie and Phil Pairs up well with younger players as opposed to someone with the same kind of juice as he.
Tiger is playing as well as anyone on tour right now and would also likely get paired up with a rookie or a younger player. He could also get paired up with Finau, but in my opinion it will be DeChambeau.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas because of their friendship and how tight they are, will likely be a pairing we will see. DJ and Koepka could be a nice pairing. The fact that Brooks is such a team player, he can fit in nearly anywhere.
Rickie Fowler has the experience and has played so well this season. He and Webb Simpson could very well be a dominate pairing if Simpson can replicate what we have seen from him this season. Both can putt and are very good from the fairways.
Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson both have a bit of an interesting reputation on tour, and show emotion. Putting together two players with fire can be a tough call, but I believe they could be an interesting pairing for Jim and his staff to put together.