RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: I fear this is the year the USA win away in the Ryder Cup… America have seven of the 12 who swept to victory two years ago, while Europe lack strength in depth

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RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: I fear this is the year the USA win away in the Ryder Cup… America have seven of the 12 who swept to victory two years ago, while Europe lack strength in depth 

  • Team Europe and Team USA square off in Rome at the end of the month
  • Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry were picked by Luke Donald for Ryder Cup 
  • Swedish prodigy Ludvig Aberg was called up just three months after turning pro

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It was towards the end of Luke Donald’s media duties on Monday when the topic switched from the names at his disposal to the bigger beasts they will face.

With it came an acceptance from Europe’s captain that his 12 men will have to match up better with the Americans on the grass of Italy than they do on paper.

‘I do think they are favourites,’ he said. ‘The last Ryder Cup was not close and they have a lot of those guys coming back. We are underdogs but I have full faith in my team.’ It was spoken with a confidence that would at best be characterised as cautious.

The USA trounced Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits and seven of that 12 are back again, with the long-held expectation that this will be the year they win away in Europe for the first time since 1993. It remains the easiest view to support. 

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In Donald’s favour is a great frontline — in Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland, they have three of the top four in the world, which is supplemented by a fine engine room of Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Open runner-up Sepp Straka and Justin Rose.

Luke Donald has selected two debutants in his six captain's picks for the Ryder Cup

Luke Donald has selected two debutants in his six captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup

Sepp Straka will make his Ryder Cup debut in Rome

Nicolai Hojgaard will also represent Team Europe for the first time

Sepp Straka (left) will make his Ryder Cup debut in Rome, where he will be joined by fellow Team Europe debutant Nicolai Hojgaard (right)

The USA trounced Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits and seven of that 12 are back again

The USA trounced Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits and seven of that 12 are back again

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But the concern is about depth. Shane Lowry has not had a top-10 finish since February and three of their four rookies rank outside the world’s top 50.

Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg are wonderfully exciting selections who might well deliver on the Rome stage.

But contrast their potential with the calibre of players left out by Zach Johnson — Keegan Bradley has won twice on the PGA Tour in the past year and Cameron Young is 17th in the world.

Europe will need to make a major dent in the fourballs and foursomes if they are to regain the Ryder Cup.

Because the fear around the singles is that the underdog’s tail might just be too long.



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