In Brief

Ryder Cup: European golf has never been stronger, says Thomas Bjorn

Team Europe captain is confident ahead of the 2018 tournament

With less than one year to go until the 2018 Ryder Cup, Thomas Bjorn said yesterday that he believes European golf is at its strongest ever. 

Speaking in 2018 host city Paris, the Team Europe captain told The Times that he is confident of his side’s chances when they face Team USA next September.

After winning in 2010, 2012 and 2014, Europe were soundly beaten 17-11 by the Americans at Hazeltine last year - but Bjorn believes his side will bring the trophy back to European soil.   

He said: “I looked at the world rankings and I’ve got ten in the top 20, and the 21st player is European too.

“You tell me a time when there have been 11 Europeans in the top 21 in the world. On paper, I don’t think we’ve been much stronger ever.”

Bjorn also spoke about Paul Casey’s chances of playing for Team Europe, and the emergence of tour star Tyrrell Hatton. 

World No. 14 Casey, who is based in the US, is not eligible, because he does not hold a European Tour card. But Bjorn says Casey would be a “fantastic asset” if he decided to rejoin the European Tour.

“He knows he has to make a decision and he has promised me I will be the first to know,” Bjorn said. “He wants to be part of it but he has tried to prioritise his family. I am not going to tell a 40-year-old guy that this is what you should do with your life.”

Hatton, on the other hand, looks all but certain to make the team next year, following a stunning couple of weeks on the European Tour where he has won back-to-back titles. He currently tops the European Ryder Cup points list.

“The one thing I like about Tyrrell is he is not scared of finishing off golf tournaments,” said Bjorn. “He is strong, he has opinions and he has an appearance on the course that you are not used to.”

Meanwhile, Team USA captain Jim Furyk told the BBC the Americans still have “something to prove” despite their victory in 2016.

He said: “We still have a chip on our shoulder. Right now we do hold the cup, we won it at Hazeltine, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do that here in Europe.

“I think in order to validate what we have been working on, we are going to have to win on both sides of the pond.”

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