The players set to form the United States team being tipped for a “decade-plus of blowouts, sapping the intrigue out of the Ryder Cup” are playing second fiddle to some Europeans on home soil all of a sudden.
In claiming the Fort Worth Invitational title on Sunday, Justin Rose became the fifth player vying to be on Thomas Bjorn’s team for September’s match in Paris to win on the PGA Tour this year, joining Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Paul Casey (Valspar Championship), Rory McIlroy (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and Ian Poulter (Houston Open).
Add in Francesco Molinari, already a member of two winning teams, stepping up his bid to make that side with an impressive victory in the BMW PGA Championship and things are shaping up very nicely indeed for Bjorn, pictured, as Europe seek to bounce back from a heavy defeat at Hazeltine last time around.
There’s still a long way to go in the qualifying race, of course, and a mountain of money to be played for, but the Dane probably wouldn’t mind if things don’t change too dramatically with his current automatic qualifiers being McIlroy, Rahm, Rose, Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Alex Noren and Tyrrell Hatton.
It’s hard to imagine Europe going into battle at Le Golf National without Henrik Stenson and the way Poulter has transformed his game in the past 12 months, the same applies to him, which would currently leave two spots up for grabs in my favoured line-up for Le Golf National.
Someone is probably going to emerge from nowhere over the coming weeks but right now I’d probably want Casey, a proven world-class performer, and Alex Levy, who would add some French flair to help fire up that home crowd, to be occupying those berths.
It’s just a shame from a Scottish perspective, really, that Paul Lawrie won’t be a vice-captain.