Colin Montgomerie says Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn is “probably looking at the best team” that has ever been assembled ahead of the event at Le Golf National.
The European team will arrive in France later this year as challengers, having lost their grip on the trophy to the USA at Hazeltine in 2016, and the anticipation continues to grow ahead of the event.
America’s eight automatic qualifying spots are currently occupied by seven major champions – these being Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson – and four-time PGA Tour winner Rickie Fowler.
Throw in the potential of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau being added to the mix via the four captain’s picks, and Jim Furyk’s side appears extremely strong on paper.
However, Europe also boasts huge quality in their ranks and Italian Francesco Molinari’s maiden major win at the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie last week means the challengers also have three major champions in their top eight – Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose being the other two.
Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey currently hold the other five automatic positions and the quintet could be joined by the likes of Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, who are tipped to get captain’s picks if they don’t qualify on their own merits.
It is panning out to be one of the most hotly-contested Ryder Cups and Montgomerie, who won five as a player and one as a captain, says this is arguably Europe’s strongest-ever team.
“Amazing what an Open victory does to a team mentality, and not just him,” he was quoted as saying by Golf Magic. “It was him, and (Rory) McIlroy and (Justin) Rose came through very well, and you put all those three together with Molinari’s win, Thomas is probably looking at the best team that we’ve had assembled for, well, almost ever.”