Can Europe’s best golfers defeat reigning champions America in France and win back the famous trophy?
2018 Ryder Cup, Friday 28 September, 6.30am, Sky Sports Golf/HD (CH 515/505)
Forget the Open Championship and US Open. Ignore the Masters and don’t even think about bringing up the US PGA or the Players Championship. The most exhilarating golf event of 2018 will be a titanic team tussle that pits 12 of the finest golfers from Europe against 12 of the best from the United States – the Ryder Cup.
This year’s clash in France is set to be one of the most hotly contested of recent times, but what else do you need to know before the unmissable action tees off live on Sky Sports Golf?
From the competition’s history to the stars to watch, the captains to live coverage, here’s your essential guide to one of sport’s most rousing events…
The Ryder Cup began as a biennial contest between the top pro golfers from Britain and the USA and takes its name from English businessman Samuel Ryder, who donated the match’s iconic gold trophy. It began in 1927 and the States won 18 of the first 22 matches. Then, following the 1977 contest, American golfing legend Jack Nicklaus suggested adding players from the rest of Europe to make things more competitive.
And you know what? It worked. Since 1979, Europe have won ten matches, the USA have won eight and there has been one tie. Team USA currently hold the trophy after triumphing at Hazeltine in Minnesota in 2016. (Pictured above is the first USA team to take on Europe, in 1979, captained by Billy Casper and also including Lee Elder, the first African-American to play in the tournament.)
It’s Europe’s turn to host the event, and the home side has chosen the Albatros Course at Le Golf National, just outside Paris, as the venue. It’s a stunning layout that produces lots of drama, especially over the spectacular, water-ridden closing holes. “Le Golf National could be the most grand setting in Ryder Cup history,” says United States captain Jim Furyk. “It is a wonderful golf course.”
Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn has been tasked with bringing the trophy back to Europe. The 47-year-old has a great record in this event, having won three times as a player and three times as a vice-captain.
Meanwhile, Furyk is hoping to dampen Bjørn’s excitement. The nine-time Ryder Cup player and former US Open champion is aiming to lead his country to victory in Europe for the first time since 1993. “I’m very excited about my team,” he says, “but each and every one of them knows the task ahead of us is going to be tough.”
Europe’s stars to watch
Do you prefer watching talents who calmly go about their business or stars who wear their emotions on their sleeves? If you side with the former, keep your eyes on Francesco Molinari – the cool, calm and collected Open champion (pictured above) has been the best golfer on the planet for the last few months. And if you vote for the latter, focus on Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. These two European youngsters have great games, passion oozing from every pore and absolutely no fear.
USA’s stars to watch
All eyes will be on Tiger Woods as he returns to the Ryder Cup as a player for the first time since 2012. Elsewhere, world number one Dustin Johnson and world number two Brooks Koepka are likely to form one of the biggest-hitting and lowest-scoring partnerships in Ryder Cup history. From an entertainment perspective, Masters champ Patrick Reed (pictured above) is odds-on to be the fist-pumping, high-fiving, crowd-shushing pantomime villain.
How to watch
The Ryder Cup is one of those sporting events where you don’t want to miss a moment, and viewers with Sky Sports don’t have to. From the opening drive on Friday morning to the winning putt on Sunday afternoon, you can follow all the action from the 42nd Ryder Cup live on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event. And if you’re out and about while the drama is unfolding, you can tune in via the Sky Sports app.
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