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What you need to know for golf’s Ryder Cup


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The men’s golf season effectively ended with the Tour Championship at the end of August, but this year we are treated to one of the most exciting events in the sport. The Ryder Cup, the biennial team golf competition between the United States and Europe, begins Friday in Rome.

Here are a few things to know:

How it works

Each team has 12 players. Six of them qualified automatically via a season-long points system, and six were selected by the non-playing team captain – Zach Johnson for the United States and Luke Donald for the Europe.

The competition takes place over three days and uses the matchplay format of golf. The lowest score on each of the 18 holes wins that hole, and whoever wins the most holes wins their match and a point for their team. If a match ends in a draw, both teams get half a point. The first team to 14.5 points wins the Ryder Cup. If the competition ends with a score of 14-14, the defending champion (in this case the United States) retains the trophy.

Friday and Saturday are dedicated to two different types of two-on-two matches. In “four-ball”, everyone plays their own ball and the best score wins the hole for their duo. In “foursomes”, each tandem plays a ball by alternating shots. In Sunday’s closing singles matches, the 12 players from each team will go head-to-head with an opponent over 18 holes.

Who’s playing

The winners of the four major championships of 2023 are here. They are the European Jon Rahm (Masters) and the Americans Brooks Koepka (PGA Championship), Wyndham Clark (US Open) and Brian Harman (British Open). Also playing for the Americans is Scottie Scheffler, who won the “fifth major” (the lucrative Players Championship) en route to finishing the season ranked No. 1 in the world.

Europe has the next three highest-ranked players in the world, Rory McIlroy, Rahm and Viktor Hovland, who last month pocketed a whopping US$18 million for winning the FedEx Cup playoff championship in PGA Tour. But the Americans have numbers 5 through 7 with Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Max Homa before European Matt Fitzpatrick breaks the race for number 8. Harman and Clark round out the top 10. Other top players include two major times winner Collin Morikawa for the United States and 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose for Europe.

WATCH | Hovland wins FedEx Cup title with 5-stroke victory:

Norwegian Viktor Hovland wins FedEx Cup title with 5-stroke victory

Norwegian Viktor Hovland shoots 7-under 63 in the final round of the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup title.

The most criticized choice of captain was American Justin Thomas. The 30-year-old was ranked world No. 1 in 2018 and won his second major title in 2022. But he has struggled this year, failing to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs at 70 nor for shooting rounds in the 80s. US and UK Opens. Zach Johnson, the U.S. captain, explained his choice by pointing to Thomas’ record of 6-2-1 in Ryder Cup matches.

What happened last time

Although the United States has an all-time record of 27-14-2 at the Ryder Cup, the competition has been much more balanced since 1979, when players from continental Europe were allowed to join what was once a major team. -Brittany and Ireland. . In fact, Europe has had the advantage ever since, going 11-9-1.

But a new era of American dominance appeared to dawn in 2021 when the United States, fielding its youngest team ever, annihilated Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin to recapture the Cup. It was the worst defeat in the history of the European team.

Don’t expect another blowout

Despite the lopsided result two years ago, betting odds suggest the Ryder Cup has returned to its natural state: essentially a draw. If you remove the possibility of a tie, Europe is a very narrow favorite. If we bet on the team that will win the trophy, the odds are slightly in favor of the Americans since they keep it in the event of a tie. The model from forecasting site Data Golf gives the United States exactly a 50 percent chance of winning the Cup and a 57.9 percent chance of retaining it.

Home-course advantage is one of the main reasons to be optimistic about Europe’s rebound from the blowout of 2021. Teams take turns hosting, and the Americans haven’t won any more games. on the other side of the Atlantic since 1993. That makes six consecutive defeats on the road. But Italy isn’t exactly a hotbed of golf, so the pro-European galleries might not be as intimidating this time around.

There’s a LIV Golf vs. PGA Tour angle (because of course there is)

Everything about men’s golf these days is steeped in the bitterness between rival leagues. Their proposed merger, which is still being finalized, may have eased the resentment between players on both sides, but it still lurks beneath the surface.

Some of those resentments resurfaced ahead of the Ryder Cup, which was one of the sticks the PGA Tour used to deter its players from defecting to the LIV when the maverick league launched last year. As is the case with major championships, the Tour does not control the Ryder Cup, so it cannot ban LIVers from playing in it. But, cut off from the ranking points awarded by the PGA Tour and its ally the European Tour, they had no real hope of automatically qualifying for a place. The LIV players’ only chance was to be named the captain’s pick.

Ultimately, the only LIV player selected was Koepka, who finished second at the Masters this year before winning the PGA Championship for his fifth major title. Some LIVers complained that they weren’t given a fair shake, but Koepka was not sympathetic to the plight of his fellow defectors. “Play better,” he advised them this week.

As always, McIlory couldn’t resist taking shots at the LIV rebels. The PGA Tour’s most ardent supporter said this week that “it’s going to hit home” for the guys on the other side that their decision to take LIV money and run cost them a chance to compete in the Ryder Cup. “They’re going to miss them being here,” McIlroy said, “more than we miss them.” »

WATCH | PGA-LIV Golf merger, explained:

The PGA/LIV Golf merger, explained | About that

The merger of the PGA Tour and rival LIV Golf – a Saudi-backed start-up that lured big-time golfers with the promise of massive payouts – shook the sports world. Andrew Chang explains how this unlikely merger came about and the accusations of “sportswashing”.


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