Who’s Up For The Ryder Cup
Golf’s four majors may have come and gone in 2018, but September is not a month to miss as it culminates in the most thrilling of all biennial golf matches – the Ryder Cup.
However, there’s plenty of action taking place on both the European Tour and the PGA Tour before the 2018 Ryder Cup, and some players will be hoping to make a late bid to catch their Ryder Cup Captain’s eye.
August on the European Tour kicks-off with the Made In Denmark Tournament, which is followed by the Omega European Masters, the KLM Open, and the Portugal Masters. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is all about the concluding three events of the Fedex Cup play-offs. These are the Dell Technologies Championship, the BMW Championship, and the Tour Championship.
European Tour Tournaments In September
Made In Denmark (August 30 – September 2)
The Made In Denmark is one of the newest additions to the European Tour, with the inaugural event only taking place in 2014. That was won by Marc Warren, with subsequent winners being David Horsey, Thomas Pieters, and Julian Suri. However, tournament form may be no help when it comes to finding the winner of the 2018 Made In Denmark Tournament as it is being played at the Silkeborg Ry Golf Club for the first time.
Omega European Masters (September 6-9)
The Omega European Masters takes place at one of the most picturesque golfing destinations in the world in Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland. Players could be forgiven for losing concentration as they gaze upon snow-capped mountains. However, the views haven’t stopped Alex Noren winning two of the last nine editions. Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn has also won this event, as have Ryder Cup hopefuls Matt Fitzpatrick and Sergio Garcia.
KLM Open (September 13-16)
The KLM Open started life as the Dutch Open way back in 1912 but continues to be played in the Netherlands. The tournament has been played at a variety of venues over the years, but will be played at The Dutch Course in Spijk for the third consecutive year. Sadly, the two-time champion and home favourite Joost Luiten looks likely to miss the event due to wrist surgery. However, 2017 champion Romain Wattel looks sure to try and defend his crown, whilst fan favourite Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and 2010 champion Martin Kaymer are also set to play.
Portugal Masters (September 20-23)
The Portugal Masters continues its association with the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura for 2018 and it this could be a good opportunity for some lesser players to win a big event as it falls the week before the Ryder Cup. The 11 editions so far have produced a variety of winners including Padraig Harrington and Andy Sullivan. Meanwhile, Tom Lewis won his only European Tour Event here in 2010 but hasn’t won since.
PGA Tour Tournaments In September
The Fedex Cup has already started, but there’s still much to play for with three Fedex play-off events to come. There’s the overall winner’s cheque of $10,000,000, whilst the winner may also get the final place in the American Ryder Cup side if he’s not already been selected.
Dell Technologies Championship (August 31 – September 3)
The Dell Technologies Championship is the second of the four Fedex Cup play-off events, but the 2018 edition will be the last. However, the course it is played on, TPC Boston, will become one of several courses used for last week’s event The Northern Trust. The Tournament has been won twice by both Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh, whilst superstars such as Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, and last year’s winner Justin Thomas have all got their names on the trophy. The field is made up of the top 100 players in the Fedex Cup Standings.
BMW Championship (September 6-9)
The BMW Championship is the third event of the Fedex Cup play-offs and the field is reduced to the top 70 players in the Fedex Cup standings after the completion of the Dell Technologies Championship. Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson have both won two of the previous 11 editions, whilst Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Rory McIlroy have also been successful. However, this will be the first time the event has been played at the Aronimink Golf Club.
Tour Championship (September 20-23)
The PGA Tour takes a break between the penultimate and final Fedex Cup play-offs, which means the top 30 players in the Fedex Cup standing should arrive fresh at East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship. If any of the top-five players in the Fedex Cup standings win the final event, they will also guarantee themselves the $10,000,000 bonus. However, should any of the other 25 players win, a complicated algorithm will be used to work out the winner. This was the case in 2017 when, despite the fact Xander Schaufelle won the Tour Championship, Justin Thomas still won the Fedex Cup and the $10,000,000 bonus. That was the first time the winner of the Tour Championship had not also won the Fedex Cup since 2008.
The Ryder Cup 2018
There’s just something about the Ryder Cup that mesmerises golf fans, and the 42nd Ryder Cup promises to be no different despite it being hosted in France for the first time. The USA will be trying to retain the Ryder Cup after their victory on home soil at Hazeltine National in 2016. They’re favourites to do so too, with bookies quoting the USA at 8/11 to retain the trophy. However, you have to go back to 1993 to find the last time the USA won on European soil. Since then, Europe have been successful in Spain, England, the Republic of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland in a run that has seen them win eight of the last 11 Ryder Cups.
The bookies are taking no chances with the USA though and it’s easy to see why when you take a look at the strength in depth the USA have. Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, and Webb Simpson are all major champions, whilst the remaining qualifier is Rickie Fowler. USA Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk can then make up his final 12 from the likes of Bryson de Chambeau, Phil Mickleson, Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, and Tony Finau, whilst he also has room for a wildcard if someone becomes red-hot during September.
However, it’s also easy to see support for Europe gathering momentum over the next few weeks, as European golf fans will probably be eager to back Europe to win a sixth straight home Ryder Cup tie in a row. The European squad may not be quite as strong as the USA’s on paper, but that’s never stopped them winning before. European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn is also likely to be happy with the players that have already earned a spot in his European Ryder Cup Team. That list includes 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Alex Noren, and Thorbjorn Olesen. Bjorn’s real headache is who to pick as his wildcards. He’s going to have to break a few hearts from a shortlist that probably includes Ian Poulter, Rafa Cabrero-Bello, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Eddie Pepperrell, Henrik Stenson, and Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup top-scorer Thomas Pieters.
Whatever happens in the next few weeks, the 2018 Ryder Cup promises to be one of the greatest of all time and, as an Englishman, I’ll be having a few pounds on Europe to succeed. However, though the teams, let alone the pairings are unknown, I think my biggest bet will be on Francesco Molinari to be Europe’s top points scorer. The Italian has played well at Le Golf National in the past, where his accurate long game is ideal, and his form in recent months has been the best of his career so far.