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2018 Ryder Cup: All You Need To Know About Team USA

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Jim Furyk travels to Paris on Friday with a Ryder Cup team that has been called the USA’s strongest to-date.

The Americans snapped a three-event losing streak last time out at Hazeltine, and arrive in France as favourites. Here are the 12 players who will defend the Ryder Cup for the United States, and try to win on European soil for the first time since 1993:

Dustin Johnson
Age: 34, World ranking: 1, Fourth Ryder Cup appearance (2010, 2012, 2016, 2018), Ryder Cup record (wins, losses, halves): 6-5-0

The 2016 US Open champion has won three US PGA titles for a third year in a row, capturing the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, the St. Jude Classic and the Canadian Open. He has won at least one title in each of his first 11 seasons, a feat only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have bettered.

DJ has 15 top-10 finishes in 38 major starts, including third at this year’s US Open, and his match play nous is well established with a 2017 win of the WGC Match Play.

There are whispers of personal issues in recent weeks, though whether the alleged problems will affect him remains to be seen.

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Brooks Koepka
Age: 28, World ranking: 3, Second appearance (’16, ’18), Record: 3-1-0

Has won three of the past seven major titles, taking his second consecutive US Open title in June at Shinnecock – the first to defend a US Open crown since 1989 – and capturing the 100th PGA Championship last month at Bellerive. And he missed the Masters with a wrist injury.

Made an impressive Ryder Cup debut in US victory at Hazeltine, and could yet prove to be the visitors’ spearhead despite some interesting recent comments.

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Justin Thomas
Age: 25, World ranking: 4, First appearance (2018)

It comes as a shock with Thomas being such a mainstay atop the game, but this is his Ryder Cup debut.

Last year’s PGA Tour Player of the Year and top money winner, Thomas won four titles in 2017, including his first major at the PGA Championship, and the FedEx Cup season points crown. Those were followed up with high-profile wins at this year’s Honda Classic and WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

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Rickie Fowler
Age: 29, World ranking: 9, Fourth appearance (’10, ’14, ’16, ’18), Record: 2-4-5

Collected his first two Ryder Cup wins in 2016, beating Justin Rose 1-up in singles and winning in foursomes with Phil Mickelson.

Has eight top-five major finishes without a victory, including second to teammate Patrick Reed at this year’s Masters. In 2014 he was top-five in all four majors but left them all empty-handed.

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Jordan Spieth
Age: 25, World ranking: 10, Third appearance (’14, ’16, ’18), Record: 4-3-2

Three-time major winner has had a poor year by his standards, failing to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship and still winless since taking last year’s British Open to go with his 2015 Masters and US Open crowns. Still has eight top-fives in 24 major starts, including third at this year’s Masters.

More struggles here would be negated however by the sheer strength-in-depth of Team USA.

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Bubba Watson
Age: 39, World ranking: 14, Fourth appearance (’10, ’12, ’14, ’18), Record: 3-8-0

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Two-time Masters champion enjoying his most successful campaign since 2014 with wins at Riviera, the WGC Match Play and Travelers Championship. Shot-shaping maestro was a 2016 Ryder Cup assistant captain.

Has a dreadful Ryder Cup record, but the WGC Match Play win suggests that his influence could grow if the horses-for-courses lefty takes to Le Golf National.

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Patrick Reed
Age: 28, World ranking: 15, Third appearance (’14, ’16, ’18), Record: 6-1-2

Took his first major title in April at the Masters.

Nicknamed “Captain America” for his flair and passion in Ryder Cup, going 3-0-1 in his debut at Gleneagles, hand aside ear after silencing hecklers, then went 3-1-1 to lead US scoring in 2016 win at Hazeltine, beating Rory McIlroy 1-up in a thrilling singles duel. Will be loving it.

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Webb Simpson
Age: 33, World ranking: 16, Third appearance (’12, ’14, ’18), Record: 2-3-1

Won this year’s Players Championship at a canter to end a five-year title drought. The 2012 US Open champion held onto the final automatic points qualifying spot by sharing 19th at the PGA Championship. Managed only his second top-10 in a major by sharing 10th at the US Open.

Has played well recently with three top sixes since August.

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Tiger Woods (wildcard pick)
Age: 42, World ranking: 13, Eighth appearance (’97, ’99, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’10, ’12, ’18), Record: 13-17-3

Fresh from his Tour Championship win, Tiger has already been the sporting story of the year.

Woods has excited golf fans by displaying top form for the first time in years in his comeback season after spinal fusion surgery. The 14-time major champion finished second in August’s PGA Championship and led in the final round of July’s British Open. Much-improved driving means his shot-making promises to excite. Has a superb 4-1-2 record in Cup singles.

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Bryson DeChambeau (wildcard pick)
Age: 25, World ranking: 7, First appearance (2018)

Won back-to-back US PGA playoff events after taking the Memorial title in June to secure a pick from US captain Jim Furyk. Wears an old-style Ben Hogan cap. Uses a book and method to figure breaks on greens when lining up putts. His irons and wedges are cut to the same length, 37.5 inches (0.953m). He’s unique but passionate and figures to partner with Florida pal Woods.

Has the capacity to either flourish or flounder.

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Phil Mickelson (wildcard pick)
Age: 48, World ranking: 25, Twelfth appearance (’95, ’97, ’99, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’12, ’14, ’16, ’18), Ryder Cup record: 18-20-7

‘Lefty’ has won five major titles among his 43 career US PGA triumphs. He captured the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the PGA Championship in 2005 and the British Open in 2013.

Ended a win drought of nearly five years in March by capturing the WGC Mexico Championship, beating Thomas in a playoff with a par on the first extra hole. Needed a captain’s pick but made his 24th consecutive USA Ryder or Presidents Cup squad, claiming all-time record of 12 Ryder Cups appearances.

Finishing dead last at the Tour Championship on +13 isn’t ideal preparation.

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Tony Finau (wildcard pick)
Age: 29, World ranking: 17, First appearance (2018)

The first player of Tongan and Samoan ancestry to play on the US PGA Tour, Finau won his first tour title at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.

The cousin of NBA Chicago Bulls forward Jabari Parker had 10 top-10 finishes this year, including shares of 10th at the Masters (after dislocating an ankle on the eve of the event) and ninth at the British Open plus fifth at the US Open. Third in driving distance this season at more than 316 yards.

How the affable long-hitter will fare in this environment is an open question, but he certainly has the game to contend for top rookie.

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afp

© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)

About Chris Kelleher

Student whose interests lie in sports ranging from Darts to MMA, with the likes of Golf, Boxing and Soccer in between. Closet wrestling fan and a lover of sports psychology and stiff jabs.