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2018 US Ryder Cup Team Odds: Will Tiger Woods be Selected?

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in Golf

Updated Apr 9, 2018 · 5:05 PM PDT

Hazeltine Ryder Cup
Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of the 2016 Ryder Cup. Photo by Darb02 [CC License].
  • Who is (and isn’t) going to make the 2018 US Ryder Cup Team
  • Winning the Masters is a great way to get off the bubble, Patrick Reed
  • Yes this article mentions prominent American golfer Tiger Woods

The Ryder Cup is a biennial intercontinental golf competition, in which the best of the US face off against the best of Europe. Selecting a team of twelve is a controversial process, and the US points system creates a meta competition for the PGA Tour’s best American players. The competition itself will take place September 27th-30th of this year, and the teams will be announced some time after August 12th.

Here’s our odds on who’s going to make the 2018 team, with some extra information and explainers below.

Player Odds to make the 2018 US Ryder Cup Team
Patrick Reed 3/17
Justin Thomas  1/4
Dustin Johnson 1/4
Jordan Spieth 1/3
Bubba Watson  3/7
Rickie Fowler 7/13
Brooks Koepka  1/1
Phil Mickelson  1/4
Matt Kuchar  2/3
Tiger Woods  1/1

How the Ryder Cup works

  • 12-man teams, match play
  • Tournament alternates between European and American courses

The tournament happens every two years, and the venue alternates between the US and Europe. After the conclusion of one Ryder Cup, the PGA of America names the captain for the next competition. He spends the next two years selecting the best 12-man team he can, as well as naming vice captains, who help him throughout the competition.

The competition itself is a three-day match-play showdown. On both Friday and Saturday, there are four fourball and four foursomes matches, and on Sunday there are twelve singles matches, for 28 total matches. The team that wins more matches wins the cup, and if there’s a tie the defending team keeps it.

How the US selects the Ryder Cup team

  • Team captain Jim Furyk laid out a points system
  • Plus he gets some picks of his own

Jim Furyk is the captain of the 2018 US Ryder Cup team, and the system he has in place is fairly straightforward. Eight players get automatic picks based on a points system that works as follows: in 2018, players get …

  • 1 point for every $1000 they win at PGA Tour events
  • 1.5 points for every $1000 they win at major championships
  • and 2 points for every $1000 they earn winning major championships.

For 2017 results, players get …

  • 1 point for every $1000 earned at majors
  • and 1 point for every $2000 earned at WGC Events and The Players Championship.

This system favors good performances at majors, and particularly favors winners of major championships, as those tournaments have huge winner’s shares. For example: Patrick Reed’s winners share at the Masters was $1,980,000, which is worth 3960 points, or enough to be seventh in the standings. It also favors winners from 2018 over winners from 2017 for obvious reasons: Brooks Koepka’s US Open performance in 2017 won’t do anyone much good if he’s too injured to play or train in 2018.

The last four picks are “captain’s picks,” which ostensibly are there to let Furyk put together the best team but in practice ensure that a few big names don’t get left at home.

2018 Ryder Cup US Selection Points

Rank Player USA Ryder Cup Points
1 Patrick Reed 6321.901
2 Justin Thomas 6049.773
3 Dustin Johnson 4918.739
4 Jordan Spieth 4638.458
5 Bubba Watson 4061.793
6 Rickie Fowler 3738.197
7 Brooks Koepka 3464.658
8 Phil Mickelson 3392.197
9 Matt Kuchar 2975.987
10 Brian Harman 2724.508
28 Tiger Woods 1217.18

Since majors count double for US team selection, Patrick Reed did himself a ton of favors by putting on a green jacket this weekend. That rockets him from ninth in the points standings to first, which makes him a near-certainty to be on the team. Even if he completely disappears over the next few months, he’ll still be high on the list come August 12th and won’t be left behind. Reed was a star at the 2016 Ryder Cup (where he defeated Rory McIlroy in hilarious fashion) and European fans apparently love him.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has been on a Ryder Cup-record 11 teams, and will almost certainly be on the team again this year. Photo by Tour Pro Golf Clubs [CC License].

Also with a big Masters bump, Rickie Fowler went from 10th (and hoping for a captain’s pick) to sixth and sitting on a comfortable margin. His performance on Sunday, and particularly the back nine, was maybe the most profitable of his career.

Phil Mickelson is on the bubble, but with a 414-point lead over Matt Kuchar and about as strong of a captains-pick case as anyone has to be feeling comfortable. Jim Furyk isn’t going to leave Lefty at home.

Brooks Koepka is in a tough spot. While his 2017 US Open scored him a lot of points, a tricky wrist injury has kept him out of competition and he’s drifted towards the bubble. He doesn’t currently have the credentials to be a clear captain’s pick, and we don’t even know if he’ll be healthy enough to play come September.

Will Tiger Woods be on the 2018 Ryder Cup Team?

  • If he’s healthy and playing decent golf, yes
  • “Is Tiger going to be a healthy, competitive golfer” is a big question

The million-dollar question. Tiger is currently serving as a vice-captain, and both he and Jim Furyk are being coy about whether he’ll also play. It’s not hugely likely that he’ll make the team automatically, doing so with Tiger’s schedule would probably require winning a major.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods was last in contention for a Ryder Cup spot in 2014, when back problems forced his withdrawal. Photo by Keith Allison [CC License].

It’s hard to imagine a world in which a healthy and competitive Tiger Woods gets left at home for the Ryder Cup. Television ratings for golf tournaments are pretty reliably predicted by how well Tiger is doing, and not inviting an otherwise capable Tiger would just be bad for the game.

Setting odds on Tiger Woods making the team is thus setting odds on Tiger Woods being mostly healthy in August, which should still make you nervous. A fused back isn’t a guarantee of full health, and we have to appreciate how lucky we’ve been to have Tiger as competitive as he has been this year.

2018 Ryder Cup US Captains Picks

So if we set aside one captain’s pick for Tiger, who else is Furyk buying a ticket to Paris? Matt Kuchar is on the bubble in terms of points, but has two previous Ryder Cup appearnaces and is by all accounts a favorite.

Tony Finau would be a fun pick. He scored a lot of (fan) points by playing the Masters on an ankle he rolled celebrating an ace at the par-three competition and a lot of (real) points by finishing T10 and carding 66 on Sunday. He’s one of the darlings of US golf right now, at a time when the priority should be shifting focus onto the next generation.

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