The Ryder Cup is back in Europe and Claret Jug fans might be interested to know which team has the edge when it comes to Champion Golfers. Le Golf National in the suburbs of Paris plays host to the latest instalment.
There are three Champion Golfers on Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team – including the reigning Champion Francesco Molinari.
It has been a spectacular year for the Italian who has won titles on both the European and PGA Tour and held off a world-class field to triumph at Carnoustie for his first major.
Believe it or not, the 35-year-old’s is yet to win a match at the Ryder Cup but with confidence high European fans will expect that to change this week.
Can Rory roar again?
2014 Champion Golfer of the Year, Rory McIlroy, has endured an inconsistent season but the Northern Irishman is showing signs of returning to the sort of form that saw him tame Hoylake four years ago.
Stenson to star?
The third Champion Golfer in Bjorn’s team is Henrik Stenson – the 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year when he tore up Royal Troon in a battle for the ages with Phil Mickelson.
Interestingly, both he and ‘Lefty’ had to rely on captain’s picks to return to the Ryder Cup this year.
The Swede has been battling an elbow injury this summer but when on form, there are few who can live with Stenson’s game and his pairing with Justin Rose could prove vital next week.
It is USA who have the edge when it comes to Claret Jug’s in their team room however.
They have three Champion Golfers of the Year – like Team Europe – but Tiger Woods’ multiple wins give them the edge in the trophy cabinet.
Woods’ return to form and fitness has been the story of this season – he led The Open going into the back nine on Sunday at Carnoustie.
A veteran of seven Ryder Cups – only Mickelson with 11 has more on team USA – Woods will rally the troops and look to rediscover the form that saw him lift the Claret Jug three times in six years.
Lefty’s record appearance
Mickelson won his Claret Jug in 2013 and while he never really challenged in finishing 24th at Carnoustie this past summer – his matchplay experience is invaluable.
No American in history has more than his 11 Ryder Cup appearances, indeed his captain Jim Furyk trails him with nine.
And then there is Jordan Spieth – a man who has had his struggles this year and failed to make the final event of the Fed-Ex Cup play-offs. However he was firmly in contention at Augusta with a Sunday charge and led at Carnoustie heading into the final day.
Of course, his Claret Jug in 2017 at Royal Birkdale was a moment for the ages – but can he forge that wonderful pairing with Patrick Reed again this year for the Americans?
So each team has three Champion Golfers but it is USA with the edge when it comes to Claret Jug’s.
Dig a little deeper and you'll find team Europe has a lot of strength when it comes to golf’s oldest Championship. Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have all finished as runners-up – indeed the Spaniard has done so twice.
Not to mention their captain Bjorn who also has two second-placed finishes. For the Americans, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler are the only two with runners-up finishes. Will their Open experience prove crucial?
Only time will tell.