1993 – Bill Clinton was President, New England Patriots had never won a Super Bowl, Donald Trump was more famous for starring in Home Alone 2 than being President and 3 of the 2018 US Ryder Cup team were born. 1993 is also the last time the USA has won the Ryder Cup in Europe. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the last US victory so why have they been so bad away from home and what hopes do they have this time around?
The Last Victory
The last time the USA won in Europe, 25 years ago, they were led by Tom Watson. At The Belfry in Warwickshire, USA defeated Europe 15-13 with the USA winning 5 of the 12 singles matches in a row to seal the victory with Davis Love III’s half on the last hole finally confirming the win. The stars of the team were Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin and Payne Stewart who each gained 3 points for the American side. USA was at one point, after the Saturday foursomes, 3 points behind but recovered to earn the victory on the Sunday.
Struggles Since 93
The first defeat in 1997 was assured before the final day even started with USA 5 points behind and, despite a dominant 8-4 victory on the singles, couldn’t make up the deficit. This was the Ryder Cup debut of a certain Tiger Woods. 2002 was a different story, although ended the same. Going into the final day both sides were level on 8 points each but Europe dominated the singles and ended up with a 3 point margin of victory. In 2006, Europe absolutely hammered USA in Ireland, winning every single session and ending with a 9 point margin of victory. At Celtic Manor in 2010, Graeme McDowell was the hero for Europe with his victory in the last singles match. At Gleneagles in 2014, Justin Rose dominated as his 4 points contributed to a 5 point victory margin for Europe.
1993 vs 2018
Comparisons can be made between 1993 and 2018. Raymond Floyd and Corey Pavin both had quite poor Ryder Cup records going into the 1993 event. In today’s side, experienced players Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler have below average records (with winning percentages of 27.27 and 40.91 respectively) despite their obvious talent. Will this be the year that Watson and Fowler finally step up, just as Floyd and Pavin did all those years ago? The 1993 side also had 4 rookies, 2 of which contributed 2 vital points each in Davis Love III and Jim Gallagher Jr. 2018 has 3 rookies of its own in Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau. Thomas, in particular, is in fine form.
Europe – Thomas Bjorn (c), Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Tyrrell Hatton, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Thorbjorn Olesen
USA – Jim Furyk (c), Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
Can USA win?
While Europe has the world number one in Justin Rose along with Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, USA has world number 2, 3 and 4 in Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas and they have a returning legend of their own in Tiger Woods. What could be an advantage for USA too is that their in-form players such as Koepka, Thomas and DeChambeau, have never played a Ryder Cup away from USA so are unburdened by historic defeats. Over half of the US team is under 30, meaning they should have nothing to fear.
Another reason to be hopeful is that while USA has a player with an awful record in Ryder Cups, Bubba Watson, Europe have someone with an even worse record in Molinari. USA also have 2 players, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, with an even better record than Europe’s Ryder Cup specialist Ian Poulter. USA have many reasons to think they can finally break the duck and, while it will no doubt be a close contest, they may even be slight favorites.
Verdict – Europe 13-15 USA