Ryder Cup head-to-head: Potential matchups on Sunday analysed

There could be some big matchups coming this weekend…
 

The biggest team competition in golf is coming up this weekend as the Ryder Cup heads to the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy.

Both sides have some top players competing which should lead to a very interesting contest all three days, but mostly on the Sunday when it all comes down to one-on-one matchplay.

Join us as we take a look at the key players and potential matchups for Sunday in our Ryder Cup head-to-head analysis.

Ryder Cup Teams

First, we need to take a look at the teams. Team Europe and Team USA are made up of 12 players who got their place either through qualification or were picked by the captains.

Each team has one main captain and five vice-captains. The captains don’t play during the tournament but do manage the partnerships on Friday and Saturday then choose the matchups for Sunday.

Team Europe

There were some surprise inclusions for Team Europe, in particular, rookie Ludvig Aberg being picked over the likes of Adrian Meronk and Victor Perez, who have both been performing very well throughout the whole DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) season.

It is still a strong team but questions do arise as to if it will be able to handle the heat of Team USA.

Captain & vice-captains

  • Luke Donald (C)
  • Thomas Bjorn (VC)
  • Nicolas Colsaerts (VC)
  • Edoardo Molinari (VC)
  • Francesco Molinari (VC)
  • Jose Maria Olazabal (VC)

Players

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Jon Rahm
  • Viktor Hovland
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Shane Lowry
  • Sepp Straka
  • Ludvig Aberg
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Robert MacIntyre
  • Matt Fitzpatrick
  • Nicolai Hojgaard
  • Justin Rose

Team USA

Team USA are, to say the least, incredibly stacked. They boast three of the four major winners this season and seven major winners in total (compared to Europe’s five).

The calibre of talent the captains had to pick from was immense, with some top players who have won on tour this season being left out.

Nevertheless, it is a strong squad they will be fielding that will make a great case at retaining the trophy.

Captain & vice-captains

  • Zach Johnson (C)
  • Steve Stricker (VC)
  • Davis Love III (VC)
  • Jim Furyk (VC)
  • Fred Couples (VC)
  • Stewart Cink (VC)

Players

  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Wyndham Clarke
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Sam Burns
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Brian Harman
  • Max Homa
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Justin Thomas

Ryder Cup head-to-head

The first two days of the competition feel like a bit of fun. They play in pairs so it’s a two-vs-two but with two different formats - four-ball and foursome, with both played on both days, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

But Sunday is where the real play happens, for that is the day of matchplay. One-on-one, fighting for the win on each hole.

Sunday is where the highlights come from when the top players come to play. Scottie Scheffler introduced himself to the Ryder Cup competition in 2021, taking down a seemingly unstoppable Jon Rahm. Could the same be coming for Europe’s Ludvig Aberg? Only time will tell.

While the actual singles pairings will be finalised closer to Sunday, we are taking a guess at what the five key matchups could be and analysing who would (or could) win.

These may be more fantasy matchups that we want to see, as each team will obviously want to give their guys the best chance at winning, but they may still be possible.

Scottie Scheffler vs Jon Rahm

The rematch. It has to happen. The 2022 Masters Champion versus the 2023 Masters Champion.

These two, along with Rory, have been trading the number-one spot in the world over the last year. And after Scottie shocked Jon and the world last time out, Rahm may look to get his revenge this time.

Both are consistent performers who are fully capable of dominating a round. If both are in top form, this would be an incredibly close war that wouldn’t be any more than one up either side if someone did win.

Xander Schauffele vs Rory McIlroy

Rory is one of the top players on the tour after having a strong season this year, winning two events, coming in the top 10 in three of the four majors, and finishing second in the PGA Tour world rankings.

Xander also had a good season by his standards, notching two top-10 major finishes and sixth in the world rankings, though he failed to win an event this year. However, he did finish second at the season-ending Tour Championship*, so is in good form.

As one of the top players on Team Europe, McIlroy will be expected to lift up the team and do a fair bit of the winning.

But that is where Schauffele could step in, as on his day he can very well challenge the best of them. And recently, Rory hasn’t been at his best, so throwing Xander to him may be a good play for Team USA.

*Not counting the FedEx Cup Fall events that come after the Tour Championship.

Jordan Spieth vs Viktor Hovland

Hovland is one of the most in-form players right now. He won the second-to-last tournament of the season then followed it up the next weekend by winning the Tour Championship by five strokes - and bear in mind that finishing sixth in the ranking means he started the weekend six strokes back from the leader.

Spieth may not be the same player who was dominating between 2015-2017, but he certainly can put on a good challenge when in form. He was part of the team that won the 2022 Presidents Cup, going perfect through the competition by winning all his matches.

This could be a close matchup, one that Hovland may revel in, but you would be silly to count out Jordan pulling out his very best.

Brooks Koepka vs Justin Rose

After a few seasons out of form, Koepka found himself at his best yet again this season. A controversial move to the LIV Tour seemed to work wonders for him as he won his third PGA Championship and finished second at The Masters.

At his very best, Koepka is easily one of the best players on the tour. The problem is, he isn’t amazing at the Ryder Cup. He has an all-time record of six wins, five losses and one draw. His possible opponent is the opposite.

Rose has never been considered one of the very best on tour, but he is a reliable player, especially in the Ryder Cup. As one of the more senior players on this year’s team, he has a record of 13 wins, eight losses and two draws.

This would be a great matchup that could go either way. One player is in great form this year, another is dependable for his team every time.

Justin Thomas vs Tommy Fleetwood

Thomas has not been in terrific form this year, and his inclusion in the team did come as a surprise to many. But as Captain Zach Johnson said; “you just don’t leave JT at home.”

Indeed, Thomas is one of the best International team players currently playing in golf, with a 16-5-3 record spread over Ryder and President Cups.

Though his form should be called into question, and that’s why pairing him up with someone like Fleetwood may be a good shout from Team Europe.
Tommy himself is a solid player in the Ryder Cup with a record of four wins, two losses and two draws. He too hasn’t had the best year of his career, but it has still been better than that of JT’s.

There is no doubting what Thomas is capable of on the International team stage, but his form does raise a lot of alarm bells. Thomas vs Fleetwood would be a good matchup that could be fairly even with either guy holding the potential to win.

Ryder Cup on Sky Sports

The Ryder Cup will begin on Friday with the first tee time set for 7.35am local time (6.35am UK time). Coverage will last throughout the day on all three days and will exclusively be shown on Sky Sports, as with all PGA Tour golf.

Sky holds the exclusive rights to PGA Tour golf, so if you’re interested in keeping up with the action this weekend, you’ll want to get that sorted as soon as possible.

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