Ryder Cup Team 2018: From Tiger Woods to Justin Rose, the Key Players on Team Usa and Team Europe

Few, if any, sporting events can match the Ryder Cup for drama and for the sheer brilliance of sports on offer. Always a tournament dripping with narratives, the 2018 edition of the tourmament carries new layers of intrigue with itself.

From Tiger Woods rolling back the years, to Team Europe's desire to recapture the trophy they lost in the cauldron of Hazeltine two years ago and Team USA's determination to win on European soil for the first time in 25 years, there are plenty of talking points ahead of this weekend.

Here, we look at four players on each team who could determine whether by Sunday the Ryder Cup will return to Europe or will remain in American hands for a further two years.

GettyImages-1040714200
US team captain Jim Furyk (L) and Tiger Woods pose with the Ryder Cup after a team photograph ahead of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National Course at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, south-west of Paris on September 26. Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

Tiger Woods—Team USA (World rankings: 13, Ryder Cup appearances: 7)

If any of the 24 players who will take to the course this weekend needs no introduction, Tiger Woods is that man. A veteran of seven Ryder Cups, the 14-time major winner won his first title in five years last week and looks back at his best .just a year after he feared he might never play again. While Tiger's return is great news for golf fans, it could spell trouble for Team Europe. The 42-year-old has won an incredible 50 of his 58 singles matchplay matches he has played in but has lifted the Ryder Cup just once in seven appearances.

Justin Rose—Team Europe (World rankings: 2, Ryder Cup appearances: 4)

Rose's spell atop the world rankings was short-lived, but the Englishman remains a crucial figure for Team Europe. Twice a Ryder Cup winner, Rose has the second lowest average score on the PGA circuit this year and has won 11 of his 19 matches across the three formats in his four appearances at the tournament. Calm under pressure and in possession of a superb all-round game, Rose has finished in the top-10 in 11 of his 18 starts this year.

Jordan Spieth—Team USA (World rankings: 10, Ryder Cup appearances: 2)

Not quite as dominant as he was three years ago when he won the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remains a phenomenal player, whose all-round game has very few, if any, flaws. A fiery competitor, the Texan was instrumental in helping Team USA to recapture the Ryder Cup two years ago and will again be one of their main weapons. He made the cut in 18 of his 23 starts this season, but has finished in the top-10 in just five occasions.

Rory McIlroy—Team Europe (World rankings: 6, Ryder Cup appearances: 4)

The four-time major winner had a solid enough year, finishing in the top-25 in 11 of his 18 starts, including a tied-second at the Open. However, he squandered the opportunity of winning the Masters, shooting a two-over par 74 in the final round and carded a four-over par 70 when paired with Tiger in the final round of the TOUR Championship last week. Despite that, he remains a world class player and could be the ace up Team Europe's sleeve if he's on his game.

Phil Mickelson—Team USA (World rankings: 25, Ryder Cup appearances: 11)

None of the players across the two teams know what playing in the red-hot arena of a Ryder Cup weekend as well as Mickelson does. With 11 appearances in the tournament he is by far the most experienced of the 24 players and will set a new tournament record by playing in his 12th Ryder Cup this weekend.

Like Tiger, Mickelson ended a five-year winning drought this year and has the second fewest average putts per round on the 2018 PGA Tour—better than any player on either team.

Ian Poulter—Team Europe (World rankings: 34, Ryder Cup appearances: 5)

Few players embody the Ryder Cup spirit as much as Poulter. A fiery competitor, he sparked Team Europe's memorable comeback at Medinah in 2012 and has an enviable record of 12 wins in 18 games across the three matchplay formats. The oldest player on the European team, his experience will be vital to Team Europe's chances.

GettyImages-1041568342
Rory McIlroy (L) speaks with Ian Poulter during a practice session ahead of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National Course at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, south-west of Paris on September 27. Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka—Team USA (World rankings: 3, Ryder Cup appearances: 1)

Koepka won three of his four matches when he made his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine two years ago and has had an incredible year so far, winning the PGA Championship and retaining the U.S. Open. Perhaps not a high-profile figure as some of his teammates but as good a player as any of those who will do battle over the weekend.

Francesco Molinari—Team Europe (World rankings: 6, Ryder Cup appearances: 2)

The Italian has enjoyed a year to remember, winning the Open Championship as well as other two tournaments in the summer. A brilliant striker of the ball, Molinari makes his first appearance on a Ryder Cup team since 2012 and will be desperate to address a poor record, which currently stands at three losses and two ties in five games.

The Italian has enjoyed a year to remember, winning the Open Championship as well as other two tournaments in the summer. A brilliant striker of the ball, Molinari makes his first appearance on a Ryder Cup team since 2012 and will be desperate to address a poor record, which currently stands at three losses and two ties in five games.