MX23RW : Friday, October 19 01:12:15

5 talking points as Europe aim to regain Ryder Cup in Paris

The USA ended Europe's recent domination last time out.

Europe face the United States in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National next week, seeking to regain the trophy lost at Hazeltine in 2016.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the biennial contest.

Can Europe regain the trophy?

Hopes of an unprecedented fourth straight victory went up in smoke at Hazeltine as Europe lost the opening foursomes 4-0 and, despite mounting a comeback in the next three sessions, Darren Clarke's side eventually lost 17-11. Only four members of that team will compete in Paris and Thomas Bjorn has five rookies to contend with compared to Clarke's six, but there is plenty of experience in the remaining seven players, especially after Bjorn selected Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia as his wild cards. Europe's captain will need that quartet to deliver plenty of points against a strong American team containing just three rookies, one of whom is major winner and former world number one Justin Thomas.

How much will home advantage play a part?

The United States have not won on European soil since 1993 and Le Golf National, which has hosted the French Open for the last 17 years, could prove vital to the home side's chances. Tyrrell Hatton is the only member of the team without a top-10 finish in the event, although he was 12th in 2015 and 16th this year. Alex Noren succeeded Tommy Fleetwood as French Open champion in 2018 while Poulter has never missed a cut in 13 appearances in the event. In contrast, Thomas was the only American team member to play in Paris in June, finishing in a tie for eighth.

How will Europe's rookies fare?

It was a mixed bag for the six rookies at Hazeltine, where Thomas Pieters won a record four points from five matches and Rafa Cabrera Bello went unbeaten, but Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Chris Wood managed just one point between them. Bjorn's rookies include European number one Fleetwood and world number seven Jon Rahm, but the pressure of a Ryder Cup is like nothing else in golf and individual success is no guarantee of producing the goods in a team environment.

Can Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson justify their wild cards?

It was hardly a surprise that Jim Furyk picked Mickelson and Woods after they had finished 10th and 11th in qualifying, but the veterans have a combined age of 90 and a poor Ryder Cup record. Mickelson's 20 defeats is an unwanted record shared only by his captain, while Woods has only been on the winning team once in seven appearances and has lost 17 of his 33 matches. With Steve Stricker a vice-captain rather than a player, it will be interesting to see if Furyk can find the right partner for Woods.

Who has the best captaincy credentials?

As previously mentioned, Furyk has an unenviable record as a player but was a part of the "Task Force" set up following the defeat at Gleneagles in 2014 and subsequently served as a vice-captain to Davis Love at Hazeltine as the Americans copied Europe's approach of grooming future captains. Bjorn was on the winning side in all three of his appearances as a player and also in three of his four stints as vice-captain (2004, 2010, 2012), suffering a first defeat at Hazeltine.

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