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Ryder Cup predictions: Europe can recover from Whistling Straits humbling
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Ian Wilkerson
Luke Donald has a high-class European team at his disposal for the Ryder Cup match in Rome
Luke Donald has a high-class European team at his disposal for the Ryder Cup match in Rome

- Europe have won seven of the last ten Ryder Cups
- Seven of the last nine Ryder Cups have been settled by a margin of at least five points
- The USA have not won in Europe since 1993

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Europe were humbled in the Ryder Cup two years ago when they suffered a 19-9 defeat to a star-studded USA line-up, so the only way is up for Luke Donald’s charges as they assemble at the Marco Simone Golf Club this week for the latest instalment of golf’s greatest team rivalry.

Hopes are high that they can redress the balance as the Americans have not won on European soil in 30 years and not only can Donald call upon Masters champion Jon Rahm and FedEx Cup winner Viktor Hovland, but also Rory McIlroy, who plays in his seventh match and who has been displaying some great consistency lately.

Many of the European players performed well at the recent BMW PGA Championship so that will give Donald great heart as well.

The Americans boast a team packed full of big names, with LIV golfer Brooks Koepka the only representative in either line-up from the breakaway tour and all eyes will be on Scottie Scheffler to help guide Zach Johnson’s team to a successful defence.

Europe could come out on top

Europe look a lot stronger than they did two years ago in Wisconsin and the extra experience could stand them in good stead, particularly in front of a home crowd.

Rahm had to shoulder much of the responsibility last year, taking 3.5 points from his five matches and, while many will look to him and McIlroy to take the lead, they will not be alone with players such as Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood in great form and ready to do their bit.

Some eyebrows were raised by the inclusions of Justin Rose and Shane Lowry, but the rookies look strong too, with Ludvig Aberg hailed as the best young talent in years and Scot Robert MacIntyre having already won the Italian Open at this venue.

The Americans have plenty of ability, but they do not travel well and there will be a huge motivation for the Europeans to rise to the occasion this time and at 5/4 they could be worth supporting.

Scottie Scheffler is expected to play a leading role for the United States Ryder Cup team in Rome
Scottie Scheffler is expected to play a leading role for the United States Ryder Cup team in Rome

Scheffler can lead USA charge

While Rahm and McIlroy are superb golfers, Scheffler has been the most consistent player of the last couple of years and he looks a solid favourite to be Johnson’s best performer.

Scheffler’s tee-to-green game is second to none and he does not have the forceful character that some of the Americans have had in the past which has seen the team struggle for cohesion.

The Texan won two and halved one of his three matches at Whistling Straits and is bound to be utilised extensively by his captain.

He could play in all five matches and his putting, his only notable weakness, may not be exposed as much in the fourball and foursome battles, so he can be supported at 9/2 to be the top-scoring American.

Hovland could be a star turn

Having McIlroy in the team is like having an extra playing vice-captain and he could well lead by example, but Hovland looks a good bet to claim the top European point-scorer honours at 11/2.

The Norwegian stormed to FedEx Cup glory recently and he was heavily utilised at Whistling Straits, playing in all five matches.

None of those ended in victory, but he still performed well and is a versatile player who can adapt well with different playing partners.

All elements of his game are in excellent order and he could prove a big asset for Donald, so take him to lead the European charge.

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