Although there’s still time for form to be found and lost – such is the nature of golf, the countdown to the Ryder Cup is very much on.
The United States and Europe will lock horns in their biennial battle from September 25 to October 1, with the traditional team and singles formats to be played at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club just outside Rome.
Team selection will take a familiar path for the US, with six players automatically earning their place via the points list and another half-dozen selected by the captain, Zach Johnson.
As for the Europeans, a slight switch in the rules means that six players will book their spot via the points list – three from the European and the same from the world, with another half-dozen selected by Luke Donald, the team captain.
So which of the two teams is shaping up the best?
The online sports betting odds for the 2023 Ryder Cup make the United States an 8/13 favourite, with Europe installed as the underdogs at 7/4 – despite having home advantage, which has yielded a win for the hosts in seven of the last eight editions of the event.
Perhaps the bookies are siding with the Americans given that three of their players have won majors this year – and each of them looks set to be selected. The row with LIV Golf has subsided to the extent that PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka is in line to be picked, while US Open champion Wyndham Clark and Open Championship victor Brian Harman are in line for Ryder Cup debuts.
Persistence personified.— The Open (@TheOpen) August 2, 2023
A win of a lifetime.
Brian Harman’s journey to becoming a Champion Golfer was long, but it made the reward all the sweeter.
As for the others in contention, world number one Scottie Scheffler is an auto-pick, while the likes of Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa are in the mix for the remaining places – the FedEx Cup final will determine who’s in and who’s not.
And then Johnson will make his six wildcard picks. There are cases to be made for the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa, even if their current form would seemingly preclude them from selection, although Justin Thomas’ torrid 2023 will almost certainly see him miss out.
The bombastic driving of Cameron Young would give a huge edge in the match play format, while Rickie Fowler’s experience and renaissance – he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July – will surely net him a Ryder Cup return; an outcome that appeared unfathomable as his game entered the doldrums in recent years.
You could declare the bare bones of the European Ryder Cup team without much thought – Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton… these seven players will surely feature through one qualification criterion or the other.
You suspect Donald would love to hand a pick to Tommy Fleetwood, with top-ten finishes in the Open Championship and US Open providing the necessary reasoning, while two wins in the past 18 months on the PGA Tour for Sepp Straka make him hard to ignore.
The world points list is pretty much a done deal, but on the European points list largely unheralded players like Yannick Paul and Adrian Meronk have a chance of joining Robert MacIntyre in the mix for the final places on the team.
All eyes will be on the last few weeks of the 2022/23 season to see who plays their way into contention – and who plays their way out of it.