Power Rankings for the 2018 Ryder Cup – How I Rate Each Player
Published on September 14, 2018
The players have been fitted for their team uniforms. The pairings are in the works.
The 2018 Ryder Cup is less than two weeks away, and it’s time to start getting ready for the action in Paris.
Now that the rosters are finalized, we know exactly which 24 men will be teeing it up at Le Golf National when the festivities get underway on September 28th.
I am here to today to break down the players on each squad, ranking them from 1-24. This list won’t be based on who has had the best season or who I’d pick in an individual stroke-play event.
My 2018 Ryder Cup power rankings are strictly based on how I anticipate each man performing once the gun goes off. The Ryder Cup is an entirely different beast than a typical PGA Tour event, or even a major championship, for that matter.
Not everyone has what it takes to excel when your entire country’s pride is on the line.
So does that mean I’m relying solely on the veterans who have been here before? Or am I buying stock in a Ryder Cup rookie who has been red-hot as of late?
Just start going down the list, and you’ll find out exactly what I think!
Nothing against the 28-year-old Danish golfer, but the rookie seems to be overmatched regardless of who he is up against.
That’s not to say that Thorbjorn can’t score some points in Paris, but at 44th in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), he is by far the lowest-ranked player here.
Three PGA Tour victories in 2018, including the WGC-Match Play. So why am I ranking Bubba as the least valuable player on the American side?
Because Bubba is 111th on the PGA Tour in strokes-gained putting, and he’s 131st in driving accuracy. Alternate shot is a lot easier when playing from the short grass, which is why I don’t see Jim rolling him out during foursomes at all.
Plus, Bubba’s sometimes porous attitude on the golf course doesn’t always bode well in a team format.
This shows you how talented this crop of 24 players is.
Paul Casey is ultra-consistent and doesn’t really display any weaknesses throughout his golf bag. However, he hasn’t played a Ryder Cup since 2008, and he had to withdraw from the BMW Championship with a back injury.
I’m not overly concerned, but I am a bit wary.
Alex Noren had a wonderful season on the PGA Tour, making 14/18 cuts and scoring a trio of top-three finishes in the process. But the 36-year-old Swede has never played in a Ryder Cup, and he’s not exactly playing his best golf at the moment.
After missing the cut at the PGA Championship, Alex went MC-43rd-24th in the first three playoff events before being eliminated prior to the TOUR Championship.
Webb Simpson has been putting great all year long. He has parlayed his success with the flat stick into an 11th-place position in the FedEx Cup standings as we embark on East Lake.
Webb’s one weakness?
Keeping the ball in play.
I think his lack of consistency off the tee will keep him off of Captain Furyk’s lineup card during foursomes, so Simpson will have to do his damage via the fourball sessions and singles play.
I love what Phil brings to the table as far as camaraderie and leadership in the team room go. But like Webb above, Phil’s inability to repeatedly find fairways should subject him to just 3 matches.
Being that the United States team has a bevy of players that can be sent out for four (if not five) matches, I don’t see Phil having quite as big of an impact as some of the younger guys he’ll be mentoring.
We all know how premium of a ball striker Henrik Stenson is, as few men, if any, hit the ball as purely as Henrik does day in and day out.
But as good as he is at swinging the golf club, his putter has been ice cold all year. In fact, according to strokes-gained putting on the PGA Tour, of the 24 men competing in the 2018 Ryder Cup, only Francesco Molinari is worse.
Forget about debating consistency; Tony Finau takes the cake. The Utah native is 3rd in the FedEx Cup standings despite not visiting the winner’s circle the entire season.
But thanks to leading the PGA Tour with eleven top-10s, Finau has been nothing short of marvelous from the start.
The fact that length won’t play as big of a factor at Le Golf National as it does at most stops might negatively affect Tony’s value a little, but this dude is so in-the-zone right now that I wouldn’t worry too much.
I know, I know. Sergio missed the cuts in all four majors in 2018 and has looked disinterested when on the golf course.
But this is the Ryder Cup, folks.
No one is more passionate about this event than Garcia, as Captain Bjorn has stated that Sergio is the “heartbeat” of the European team and couldn’t imagine leaving him on the sidelines.
Clearly, Sergio needs some motivation to get back to being a world-class player, and I suspect that a week in Paris playing the Ryder Cup is the perfect recipe to kick his game into gear.
Francesco Molinari didn’t just have a “solid month” in July.
For crying out loud, the dude won two golf tournaments, including a major championship, and finished runner-up in his only other start. The 35-year-old Italian has since added a 6th at the PGA Championship and is coming off an 8th-place showing at the BMW.
I imagine he’ll play well at the TOUR Championship, and that should translate into more good play the following week in France.
We all saw Bryson take the golf world by storm when he raced out to a huge lead in the FedEx Cup standings by winning each of the first two postseason events.
Bryson has been dreaming about this moment ever since he attended the Ryder Cup as a fan at Hazeltine in 2016. I think he shows up big for the red, white, and blue when his name is called upon in a couple weeks’ time.
It’s hard to believe, but Jordan Spieth is technically the worst putter on his team if you go by the putting statistics. Obviously Jordan hasn’t had a typical “Jordan Spieth banner-like year,” but the Dallas resident has become one of the most clutch players on tour over the past five years.
Match play and team format could be exactly what Spieth needs to warm his putter back up because he has actually struck the ball well in 2018.
If and when that putter heats up, look out for whoever is standing in his way.
Talk about a golfer who wears his emotions on his sleeve. I’m interested to see who Captain Bjorn pairs Tyrrell Hatton with to help him calm his nerves.
What I can’t deny is how rock-solid Hatton has played in the biggest golf tournaments in the world. Over his last 5 starts, he hasn’t finished worse than 29th, and he saves his best golf for when the pressure is mounted highest.
Tyrrell has fired a 64 in three of his last four final rounds, and he leads the tour in putting from 15-20 feet.
If you go through the entire sheet of statistics, nobody is better than Dustin Johnson. He’s first in proximity from the fairway, and he’s first in proximity from the rough.
In fact, D.J. leads the tour in par-3 scoring, par-4 scoring, and par-5 scoring. It’s just silly how good this guy really is.
But I don’t really see the same “killer instinct” in Dustin as I see in some of the other top-ranked players in the world. He can sometimes go cold with the putter and is just 6-5 during his three previous Ryder Cup appearances.
The 2018 Masters winner didn’t earn the nickname “Captain America” by shying away from these moments.
We all remember Reed’s heroics in his 2016 Sunday singles match versus Rory McIlroy.
I’m not sure if 2018 will be quite as epic, but I’m sure Patrick has plenty of tricks up his sleeve for Paris this time around.
Rickie Fowler had been nursing a sore oblique muscle, but a T-8th at Aronimink Golf Club tells me that the former Oklahoma State Cowboy golfer is locked and loaded for the upcoming action in France.
The fact that Furyk can send Rickie out in all formats with just about any partner makes me like his chances of scoring a handful of points, regardless of how tough his opponents might be.
I think the fiery passion and exuberance we have come to see from Jon Rahm will be on full display at Le Golf National.
I expect to see the 23-year-old Spanish sensation team up with Sergio Garcia in an attempt to emulate the “Spanish Armada,” the team comprised of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazábal from past Ryder Cups.
Rahm might be a streaky putter, but the kid flushes it on a string and won’t be afraid to face anyone.
On paper, it will say that Justin Thomas is a Ryder Cup rookie. But don’t let that fool you for a second.
The 2017 FedEx Cup champ went 3-1-1 in his team debut last year at the Presidents Cup and has finished outside the top 25 just three times in 22 starts in 2018.
Like Fowler, Justin has no obvious weaknesses, plus he can absolutely obliterate the golf ball and rip apart par 5s. I don’t know who we’ll see Justin go out with, but I can promise you it will be an extremely formidable duo.
Do I really need to remind you how stellar Ian Poulter has been throughout his Ryder Cup career?
How about a 12-4-2 record, including an 8-1-1 mark in foursomes and singles combined. I don’t know what switch this guy flips on when he arrives at a Ryder Cup, but his amazing play and positive attitude seem to be infectious amongst all of his teammates.
When Thomas Bjorn asks his players who they’d like to pair up with in alternate shot, I can assure you that Ian’s name will be one of the first ones uttered.
Tommy Fleetwood is an all-world talent who will enter the Ryder Cup brimming with confidence. Playing a full PGA Tour schedule for the first time in his life, Tommy did everything but win a golf tournament (he could still win the TOUR Championship next week) in 2018.
He hits the ball plenty far and is known to be a good putter, but it’s the dependability of his ball striking that will make him an elite force to be reckoned with in any format he is sent out in.
The number-3-ranked player in the world might not show a ton of outward emotion, but Brooks Koepka’s desire to be great burns deep inside of his chiseled frame.
The confidence he has gained from winning the last two majors cannot be denied, and I promise you that every time he tees it up, his playing competitors know exactly what Brooks has accomplished.
His powerful swing mixed with his silky putting stroke will make him an extremely tough out for anyone from Team Europe.
Tiger Woods has been surging all year long, and there is no reason to believe his superb play won’t continue into the Ryder Cup.
He may not intimidate players the way he used to, but his recent play suggests that he’s inching closer toward that “vintage Tiger” we all came to know and love.
I’m not saying he’ll get back to the dominance he exhibited in the early 2000s, but here’s the thing.
If he plays even close to that level, he’ll be back to being the most feared American golfer in the world.
Justin Rose is beaming after recently being crowned with the number-one ranking in the world of golf.
When I watch Justin swing the golf club, it reminds me of a robotically-built machine that is designed to repeat the same exact perfect golf swing, over and over again.
He finished runner-up at the Open Championship and is coming off back-to-back second-place finishes at the last two Playoff events.
This dude is firing on all cylinders, and I expect him to come up huge at Le Golf National.
Last but not least, Rory McIlroy.
The 29-year-old world-beater is quietly playing some extraordinary golf right now. After finishing 12th at the Dell Technologies Championship, Rory placed 5th at the BMW Championship last week. He hasn’t won since the API back in March, but he did go 2nd-6th at the British Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational not too long ago.
The way “Rors” was driving the ball at Aronimink combined with his recent uptick with the putter makes me think he puts it all together in Paris and puts on an exquisite performance.
So there you have it.
All 24 Ryder Cup players ranked in a single list. Of course, once the first ball is hit on Friday morning of Ryder Cup week, all of the previews and all the statistics on paper can be thrown out the window.
The Ryder Cup is all about which team is more prepared and which team wants it more. All of these men know how to execute and get the ball in the hole.
I can’t wait to see who does it best in Paris at the end of the month.
If you want more insight into some betting tips and advice for the 2018 Ryder Cup, continue checking our blog for updates as we get closer to game time!
Until then, enjoy the TOUR Championship!