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Ryder Cup 2018: European Contenders

- 14:04, 1st April 2018
Plenty to ponder for European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn

The Ryder Cup is still just under three months away as the United States travel across the pond to try and defend the trophy at Le Golf National in Paris.

Thomas Bjorn has been handed the task of trying to guide Europe to success on home soil after they suffered a first defeat since 2008 in going down 17-11 at Hazeltine in October 2016.

Jim Furyk's men are favourites at 1/1 to win in Europe's backyard and the hosts have made changes to the selection process in a bid to make sure they have the best chance of beating the odds as they sit at 5/4 in the Easyodds betting to lift the trophy.

Bjorn will again have his eight automatic qualifiers in France, but will also have four captain's picks for the first time after an extra one was added ahead of the 2018 tournament.

There will also be more points made available in the latter stages of qualifying to try and ensure that those players in hot form are the ones who force their way into the reckoning.

With the US Masters up next week, we take an early check of the Easyodds odds on who will be in the European team attempting to stop them.

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The likes of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia are all looking dead-certs to be included in the 12-man team given their experience of Ryder Cup battles not to mention the fact all three are sitting in automatic qualification places.

Ross Fisher picked up two points on his Ryder Cup bow at Celtic Manor in 2010 and sits in the automatic places so is worth considering when considering who will be in Bjorn's plans.

However, there is certain to be some new kids on the block in 2018 as current number one-ranked player Tyrrell Hatton is 1/20 to be in the Ryder Cup team having enjoyed an impressive run of form.

The 26-year-old won back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links Championship titles in 2016 and 2017 and added the Italian Open to his collection last year.

Hatton subsequently featured in Bjorn's European side for the EurAsia Cup clash against Asia in Malaysia in January and helped the side record a 14-10 win.

He was joined in the team by last year's European Tour Race To Dubai victor Tommy Fleetwood, who currently occupies sixth spot in the rankings on the back of his 2017 to remember, and is also looking certain to be featuring in the Ryder Cup for the first time in his career.

Spain's Jon Rahm is another set to be a newbie having won two Rolex Series events on the European Tour before taking a share of third at the WGC-Mexico Championship and finishing runner-up at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

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Sweden's Alex Noren currently sits on the fringes of an automatic place and is a good Easyodds tip to work his way into Bjorn's team to face the US.

The 35-year-old has never made a Ryder Cup team, but did impress in the EurAsia Cup in January and will have caught the eye of the European captain.

A victory against Justin Thomas earned him a best-ever third place at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, while he also saw off American Ryder Cup legend Patrick Reed earlier in the tournament to further stake his claim for selection.

Had more qualifying points been up for grabs in the latter tournaments of 2016, Noren would have made the cut so it will be poetic justice for him to make the grade in 2018 and is clearly expected to stay on track.

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