The picturesque 18th hole will provide plenty of spectacle and drama over the next few days at Le Golf National.

It’s an event like no other.

Forget it being completely different to anything else in golf. The Ryder Cup has become one of the world’s greatest sporting events in its own right. 

Every two years, 24 of the best players from Europe and the USA lock horns in the most dramatic, tense and thrilling competition that the game of kings has to offer.

The camaraderie, rivalry, passion and atmosphere it creates puts it right up there with all of the biggest competitions – and it’s great to see individuals become team players for the weekend.

The 42nd staging, which starts in Paris this morning, could be one of the most exciting yet as Europe look to wrestle the famous trophy back after recording three wins in a row, including the Miracle of Medinah in 2012, one of the most amazing comebacks in any sporting arena.

For the first time ever, the top 10 players in the world rankings are featuring. Unfortunately, for us, six of them will be wearing the stars and stripes. And with Tiger Woods’ sensational return to form arriving at just the right time, I fear it’ll be a slightly less enjoyable Ryder Cup for us Europeans.

The key facts

Team Europe 

Captain: Thomas Bjorn 

Vice captains: Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood 

Players – Automatic qualifiers: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose 

Captain’s picks: Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson 

Team USA

Captain: Jim Furyk 

Vice captains: David Duval, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Steve Stricker

Players – Automatic qualifiers: Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson 

Captain’s picks: Bryson Dechambeau, Tony Finau, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods 

Course

Le Golf National, Paris, France 

Par: 71

Distance: 7,183 yards

Course record: 62 – Eduardo Romero (2005)

Ryder Cup record 

USA: 26 wins, Europe: 13 wins 

Two draws (1969 and 1989)

The last five

2016: USA win (17-11, Hazeltine, USA)

2014: Europe win (16½-11½, Gleneagles, Scotland)

2012: Europe win (14½-13½, Medinah, USA)

2010: Europe win (14½-13½, Celtic Manor, Wales)

2008: USA win (16½-11½, Valhalla, USA)

Schedule 

Today: 4x four-ball and
4x foursomes matches 

Tomorrow: 4x four-ball and 4x foursomes matches

Sunday: 12 singles matches


The Ryder Cup explained

Four balls: Each member of a two-man team plays his own ball, so four balls are in play on every hole. Each team counts the lowest of its two scores on each hole and the team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole. If the lowest scores are tied, the hole is halved.

Captains Jim Furyk, left, and Thomas Bjorn face the media.
Pictures: GETTY IMAGES

Foursomes: Each two-man team plays one ball per hole with the players taking turns until each hole is complete. Players alternate hitting tee shots. The team with the lowest score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved.

Singles: Each match features one player from each team. The player with the lower score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved.

Scoring: Each match is worth one point, with matches ending in a draw worth half a point to each side. The first team to reach 14½ points (of the 28 available) wins the Ryder Cup. If the matches end in a 14-14 draw, the team holding the Ryder Cup (USA) retains it.


USA boost from Woods

I definitely had something in my eye on Sunday.

It must be the only explanation for the tears that filled my eyes as Tiger Woods walked up to the 18th hole, followed by thousands of fans, before sinking his final putt at the Tour Championship.

It secured the 42-year-old’s first win in five years and completed an astonishing comeback from a series of personal and injury problems that had seen one of golf’s greatests drop to 1,199th in the world rankings.

Woods had shown plenty of glimpses that he was returning to his best but the weekend’s success proves he has and that can only be good news for Team USA.

We asked… What will be the outcome of the AJ v Povetkin bout?

You voted… 

Joshua win

79%

Povetkin win

19%

Draw 

2%%

ν

 This week’s poll…

What will be the outcome of the Ryder Cup?

European victory 

USA victory 

Draw (USA retain)

Get involved, vote and comment, on Twitter
@GavinCaney