Ryder Cup profiles: Team Europe line-up and analysis ahead of 2018 contest in Paris

Team Europe are hoping to win back the Ryder Cup
Team Europe are hoping to win back the Ryder Cup

We profile the 12 players who will represent Europe in Paris for the 2018 Ryder Cup, including their competition records and statistics.

Francesco Molinari

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 0-4-2
Foursomes: 0-2-0
Fourball: 0-1-1
Singles: 0-1-1

Course form: 26-21-MC-13-25-2-MC-2-18-26-6-2-38

Third time as a Ryder Cup qualifier and so far he's been involved in two of the most dramatic renewals in memory, first when playing alongside brother Edoardo at Celtic Manor in 2010 before effectively completing the Miracle in Medinah for Europe in 2012, when Martin Kaymer's putt kept the trophy and very much stole the headlines but Molinari's half against Tiger Woods ensured outright victory.

Despite that, so far Molinari's contribution has been limited. He was the lowest scorer on the team in 2010 and ahead only of Peter Hanson in 2012, managing a half in each renewal from three games played; in other words, he's yet to win a full point in six tries. Yet, six years on from his latest appearance, the Italian not only returns a major champion but also takes part in a renewal staged at Le Golf National, where he's three times been second and owns a game made for the golf course.

Before winning the Open, Molinari had confessed that match play doesn't bring out his best, that perhaps he just isn't nasty enough. It was hard to disagree. Much then depends on what downing Tiger Woods and the rest really did for him at Carnoustie. If he comes here with the confidence of a major champion, which he should, then there's no reason he can't become a key part of any European success. Long enough to keep up and straighter than anyone else here, there are no excuses and he'll be expected to play a key role. That's a new kind of pressure.

Justin Rose

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 11-6-2
Foursomes: 5-2-1
Fourball: 4-3-0
Singles: 2-1-1

Course form: MC-3-72-9

A brilliant Ryder Cup performer ever since his 2008 debut, in which he beat Phil Mickelson in singles having previously struck up a winning partnership with Ian Poulter. Repeat performance in 2012 (again beating Mickelson, again having fared well with Poulter) until he was paired with close friend Henrik Stenson at Gleneagles, the pair winning all three games before they were split up on Saturday afternoon.

At Hazeltine, Rose and Stenson bounced back from defeat to the star Reed/Spieth pairing on Friday morning to gain revenge on Friday afternoon and it remains surprising that they didn't play together again, but where Rose is concerned he's now featured in all 15 sessions across the 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions and has built a remarkably impressive record along the way.

As for his play in 2018, he's been typically consistent, contended fairly regularly and won in Texas, while his major form reads 12-10-2-19 and again demonstrates that he's one of the most reliable players in the sport, inside and outside the Ryder Cup. Sure to be a feature again here, it'll be interesting to see whether it's Stenson, Poulter or perhaps someone else who gets the benefit of playing with the European with perhaps fewest questions to answer.

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose

Tyrrell Hatton

Ryder Cup record

Debut

Course form: MC-12-33-MC-16

Enfant terrible who won two strong events soon after qualifying began to all but secure a debut appearance. He knows Le Golf National well and should be suited to it, but there have to be some doubts as to how he'll cope with this unique pressure and just how big a role he'll be expected to play.

Given that Hatton is prone to fallow periods it's encouraging that he's made every cut since early summer and having closed out two recent PGA Tour starts with scintillating 64s, including when securing his second major top-10 of the year, it's hoped that he'll arrive in Paris somewhere near the top of his game.

He's also a potential answer to the Paul Casey conundrum, having won alongside his equally irritating (in the eyes of some) compatriot at the EurAsia Cup at the start of the year, and while unclear whether he'll rise to the occasion or not the course is suitable enough to expect a solid debut.

Tommy Fleetwood

Ryder Cup record

Debut

Course form: MC-MC-MC-1-MC

Another rookie qualifier but one who is more than comfortable at elite level now and seems to play well just about every week wherever he is in the world. That's largely due to an outstanding long-game, but don't underestimate the value of his attitude, the relationship he has with his caddie and wider team (including wife, who is also manager) plus the definite improvements made in his short game.

Combine all that with a victory here at Le Golf National in 2017 and you have a potential stalwart for Europe, another who has played with Casey without hitting him, but one who could team up nicely with anyone in reality. That said, his course record is far from flawless and in fact away from last summer's victory, he's failed to break 70 in 10 rounds or to make a weekend in five visits.

Now a fully-fledged member of the world's elite and a player who has taken so much in his stride over the last two years, expect Fleetwood to cope well with the unique pressure of a Ryder Cup and, all being well, play four matches minimum, proving that his course form is a red herring in the process.

Tommy Fleetwood: Will make his Ryder Cup debut
Tommy Fleetwood: Will make his Ryder Cup debut

Jon Rahm

Ryder Cup record

Debut

Course form: 10-5

The closest thing Europe has to an equivalent of Justin Thomas, in that he's a rookie in literal terms but is currently inside the world's top five and, as well as having won all across the world in little more than two years as a professional, he's also started to threaten that first major which to many seems inevitable.

With what some would term a Spanish temper to go with his power and flair, it's easy to see why Rahm is expected to follow in the footsteps of Ballesteros, Olazabal and Garcia in building a career around this event and there's no reason to doubt his allegiance despite having received his golfing education in Arizona and, quite understandably, spending much of his time on the PGA Tour.

As well as winning in Ireland, Dubai, California (twice) and Spain - five titles in 50 starts or thereabouts - Rahm marked our cards with his run to the final of the WGC-Match Play in 2017, less than a year into his professional career, and if Europe are to win this thing back they will need him to do what's expected of him - and possibly more.

Rory McIlroy

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 9-6-4
Foursomes: 4-3-1
Fourball: 3-2-2
Singles: 2-1-1

Course form: MC-4-3

Europe's most decorated player and a potential lead-off man on Sunday, having taken that role for the first time at Hazeltine where he suffered his first singles defeat at the hands of Patrick Reed. Prior to that, he'd thumped Rickie Fowler in 2014 having also beaten Keegan Bradley in 2012 and it's likely that, as with the very best players in history, his singles record continues to impress.

McIlroy has also proved an able partner, though, first with mentor Graeme McDowell before flying the nest to form a key partnership with Ian Poulter at Medinah, a winning one with Sergio Garcia at Gleneagles and a devastating one with Thomas Pieters at Hazeltine. There's talk of McIlroy pairing with Thorbjorn Olesen this time and Bjorn will hope it's more Pieters than Andy Sullivan, the latter having been alongside McIlroy as USA completed a clean sweep of the opening foursomes two years ago.

Away from the Ryder Cup, it's clear that McIlroy hasn't been able to reach the dizzying heights of 2014 but he's still won again this year and contended in two of the four majors, the bare minimum in terms of personal expectations but evidence that he's close his devastating best, the sort of golf which would ensure he's key to any European success here despite not yet having top-scored for his side.

McIlroy has played every match in each of the last three editions, just like Rose. It's possible to argue that at Hazeltine, in a highly-charged environment, this cost him half a point or more on Sunday. Yet back on European soil it's likely that he's again sent out five times and if Europe are to win, they'll need a positive return on that investment.

Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine
Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine

Alex Noren

Ryder Cup record

Debut

Course form: MC-MC-MC-78-37-15-MC-8-10-1

Similar career path to Fleetwood and effectively sealed his place in the side by succeeding the Englishman as Open de France champion in June, courtesy of his now trademark Sunday charge, the like of which also saw him win last year's BMW PGA Championship.

Between those two efforts, the Swede demonstrated his skills to a wider audience in a play-off defeat to Jason Day at the Farmers and in beating Thomas to third place in the Match Play, although it must be said that his form of late has nosedived and that will be a concern given his potential to do serious damage.

Team golf record isn't particularly encouraging, especially his failure to win a pairs game against inferior opposition at the EurAsia Cup earlier this year, and suddenly looks one of the Europeans to be a little worried about despite a generally reliable, malleable game and a personality which means he could team up with anyone, not just compatriot Stenson.

Thorbjorn Olesen

Ryder Cup record

Debut

Course form: 2-MC-MC-MC-WD-3-MC

Clung on to the final qualifying spot and deservedly so, having sprung to life with victory in the Italian Open and held that form through summer, notably when third in elite company at Firestone. Given the pressure he's been under, and all the talk about his relationship with captain Bjorn, it's a tremendous achievement to have taken an awkward decision out of his mentor's hands.

Just how big a role he'll now play remains to be seen, but his hyper-aggressive approach, waywardness off the tee on occasion and excellent putting would appear to mark him down as more of a fourball candidate while his ability to win tournaments from the front regardless of the opposition hints that he could make for a surprise package in the singles.

There have been suggestions that he'll pair up with McIlroy and that could make for a killer combination, Olesen having shown he can take care of this golf course twice before with his putting in particular likely to complement McIlroy's obvious talents.

Ian Poulter

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 12-4-2
Foursomes: 4-1-0
Fourball: 4-3-1
Singles: 4-0-1

Course form: 73-55-30-14-3-9-30-3-18-4-25-45-21

Nicknamed 'The Postman' after his Medinah heroics, as he scraped Europe off the canvas with golf which left Saturday partner McIlroy in awe. He'd already built up a reputation as a Ryder Cup specialist and went on to play a key part on Sunday as Europe completed a miracle comeback.

Poulter was less effective at Gleneagles, where his singles winning run was ended in a half with Webb Simpson, but there were still moments of chest-beating brilliance and perhaps Europe were just too dominant to get the best out of a player at his most dangerous when his back is against the wall.

That was certainly the case earlier this year, when Poulter birdied the 72nd hole of the Houston Open to force a play-off he'd go on to win, securing the final place in the Masters field. He's held his form well since and was guaranteed a place in the side as soon as it was clear he would require one.

With a deep bank of Le Golf National form - he's played the Open de France there no fewer than 13 times and, as he's never missed the cut, that's 52 competitive rounds - expect him to play a major role, especially as a foursomes player. He will be a marked man, but that only serves to make him more dangerous.

Ian Poulter: Can Europe's Ryder Cup rock, nicknamed The Postman, deliver again?
Ian Poulter returns to playing duties

Paul Casey

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 3-2-4
Foursomes: 1-1-0
Fourball: 1-0-3
Singles: 1-1-1

Course form: 10-MC

Back in the side following a decade away after Keith Pelley and captain Bjorn made the trip to Casey's Arizona home to come to an arrangement, the feeling having been that Europe were shooting themselves in the foot by not making him eligible.

Once Casey's path to the side was opened up, he showcased his intentions by taking part in the EurAsia Cup and from there went on to win on the PGA Tour for the first time in almost a decade, at which point his return appeared certain. In the end, a quiet spell during late-summer meant he needed a wild card but the hard yards were done in the early part of the year.

Casey's record in the competition is solid, certainly when it comes to avoiding defeat which he's done in seven of nine matches. Tellingly, he's unbeaten in fourball, which certainly fits the narrative of a player who is not perhaps considered to be too concerned with much beyond his own score. In fairness that’s perhaps a little harsh given the effort he’s made at the EurAsia Cup and he’s a welcome addition.

Henrik Stenson

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 7-7-2
Foursomes: 2-3-1
Fourball: 3-2-1
Singles: 2-2-0

Course form: MC-60-MC-55-29-7

Made his debut with a 1-1-1 record at the K Club and has kept hold of that 50% strike-rate since, playing a bigger role at Gleneagles and Hazeltine and impressing in particular at the former. Much of Stenson's recent success has come courtesy of a partnership with friend Rose, and while they won just one of three matches at Hazeltine there's every chance they're sent out together once more.

The concern with Stenson would be that he's been nursing an elbow injury, one which has undermined what could've been another excellent year given that he registered his best ever Masters performance in the spring and also played well in the US Open. But reports suggest he's back close to full health and while he surely won't play five times as was the case two years ago, he will be a big part of the team room.

Stenson has limited experience of Le Golf National but was seventh on his only visit this decade and it's a course where three-wood off the tee and precision on approach, very much his modus operandi, is a working formula. If he's able to prepare well, he'll prove hard to beat.

Sergio Garcia

Ryder Cup record

Overall: 19-11-7
Foursomes: 9-3-3
Fourball: 7-4-3
Singles: 3-4-1

Course form: 8

Undoubtedly the selection which has caused most controversy, despite the fact that a good Ryder Cup here and Sergio Garcia could become the most successful European player in history. Of course, that's only worth so much but let's remember that since the last Ryder Cup, he has won four times, including the Masters.

The case against his selection, then, rested solely on a poor summer, yet even that included eighth place at Le Golf National while his final start prior to Bjorn's announcement saw him start really well on the PGA Tour, where eight of his last 10 rounds have been par or better. At his best, he is not. Gone at the game? Don't be ridiculous.

Garcia has been selected for reasons beyond form, and that should be easy to understand. He's an especially effective foursomes player who could develop a devastating partnership with Rahm, and who either way will surely prove a major asset in the team room, something which can't be said of those who missed out.

There are three weeks between Europe's wild card announcement and the Ryder Cup. Garcia, one of the Tour's hardest workers on the range, will redouble his efforts to peak in the event which matters most to him. All wild cards are fortunate to be selected, Garcia included, but the outcry is unwarranted. Garcia has been a staple of Europe's most dominant Ryder Cup run. On and off the course, he has much to offer.

Ryder Cup stalwart Sergio Garcia
Ryder Cup stalwart Sergio Garcia

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Ryder Cup 2018: Tournament schedule, format & timings

  • Venue: Le Golf National
  • To win: 14½ points from the 28 available are needed to win the Ryder Cup. As holders, USA will retain the trophy if it finishes 14-14.
  • TV: Sky Sports

Friday Morning, 0710 BST start

  • 4x Fourballs matches (better ball)

* Both players in each pairing play their own ball. A hole is won by the team whose member has the lowest score.

Friday Afternoon, 1250 BST start

  • 4x Foursomes matches (alternate shot)

* Both players in each pairing take it in turns to play one ball. A hole is won by the team who completes it in the fewest shots

Saturday Morning, 0710 BST start

  • 4x Fourballs matches

Saturday Afternoon, 1250 BST start

  • 4x Foursomes matches

Sunday, 1105 BST start

  • 12 x Singles matches

Ryder Cup: Team line-ups

EUROPE

Captain: Thomas Bjørn

Players:

  • Paul Casey
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Francesco Molinari
  • Alex Noren
  • Thorbjørn Olesen
  • Ian Poulter
  • Jon Rahm
  • Justin Rose
  • Henrik Stenson

Vice-captains

  • Luke Donald
  • Padraig Harrington
  • Robert Karlsson
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Lee Westwood

UNITED STATES

Captain: Jim Furyk

Players:

  • Bryson DeChambeau
  • Tony Finau
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Patrick Reed
  • Webb Simpson
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Justin Thomas
  • Bubba Watson
  • Tiger Woods

Vice-captains:

  • David Duval
  • Zach Johnson
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Davis Love III
  • Steve Stricker

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