The Ryder Cup is nearly here. Team Europe want to win back the coveted trophy, on home soil at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome after the huge 19-9 loss to the Americans at Whistling Straits two years ago.
Armchair fans can get a small taste of Ryder Cup captaincy with the tournament’s own fantasy golf game. Just like the vastly popular Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, the Ryder Cup version offers a chance for golf purists and casual viewers to earn some bragging rights of their own.
Here’s how it works, and, more importantly, tips on how to beat your mates. If you would like to join the Telegraph’s own league, use the code XVOGUZ82.
How to Play
After registering, you are asked to pick a team of six golfers from the 24 who will make the trip to Rome. Unlike most team fantasy games, the Ryder Cup game has no restrictions on who you can pick. There are no values or salary cap limits like FPL. It is a free-for-all.
You can have six golfers from Team Europe if you wish or all of the world’s top six. Once your roster is picked, you are asked a tie-breaker question to determine your overall finishing position in the worldwide league should participants be tied. Fantasy players can select a new team every day of the tournament and change up to three players in between the morning and afternoon session each day.
How to score points
There are a host of ways your six players can score points with an algorithm factoring in hole-by-hole scoring, shot-by-shot scoring and bonus points. When a player wins a hole they receive three points, halving a hole is one point and a lost hole is minus one point. Every fairway hit and green in regulation earns 0.5 points while a hole-in-one is worth five points.
Players start to earn serious points in the bonus system, which hands out five points for three holes won consecutively and, separately, no holes lost in a match. A win is worth a further six points, a tie is two points and unplayed holes after an early win earn an extra one point per hole. Like with all other fantasy games, the aim is to accumulate as many points as possible.
Our Ryder Cup fantasy tips
Pick your captain carefully
Captains receive 1.5x points. The basic premise is that you should pick the player you think will muster the most points on a given day. You are able to change your captain between sessions but it is important to pick a player who will line up in both the morning and afternoon sessions of four-balls and foursomes or you risk drawing a blank as there is no vice-captain system.
With that in mind the safer choice would be picking a team’s leader or in-form player to captain a session. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland should play all five matches for Team Europe and therefore maximise their chances of being the team’s highest point scorer. Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka would be Team USA equivalents.
Another tactic would be to pick a golfer who has an outstanding Ryder Cup record: ie Patrick Cantlay for Team USA or Justin Rose for Team Europe.
Leave selections til late
With fantasy team managers having until the first scheduled tee-time on each day to finalise their teams and make changes, it is imperative you look out for the match-ups and tailor your six golfers to reflect the pairs (or singles on Sunday) that you think will win their matches.
You will have to leave your allegiance at the door and think with your head, as some pairings will emerge as clear favourites in the match ups depending on the orders both captains put out. For example, if European rookie Nicolai Hojgaard gets World No 1 Scottie Scheffler in the singles on Sunday what is the possibility of him winning enough holes and bonus points to set you apart from the rest? Gambling in fantasy games usually hurts more than it helps.
Partner up for double points
The Ryder Cup starts with the foursomes and four-balls format across the two opening days with team captains picking pairings. This gives you the opportunity to double your points as every hole won, birdie made etc. will be applied for both golfers who are partnered up together.
This is a good chance to get a few differential players in your team if they are partnered up with a strong player and strike a good partnership. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are a shoo-in pair for Team USA and won all three of their matches together at Whistling Straits two years ago and have a title in the Zurich Classic (a pair format tournament).
Spread your players
Stocking your team with three top players and then three players you feel should win their matches gives you potential points in the bank and leeway to change things if you fall short in the morning session.
You should try and strike a balance between Team USA and Team Europe. Whether that is a three-and-three split or a four-and-two is your choice but do not leave yourself short-sided by going all out for one team.
Points will be available for both teams and you should pick players to reflect the matches made by the order of play rather than stockpiling a specific team because you think they will win the whole event.
Back a rookie
Every Ryder Cup has a stand-out rookie who etches himself into the competition’s history. In 2021, it was Scottie Scheffler. Many questioned captain Steve Stricker picked the youngster on his team but those questions were quickly answered after he went unbeaten in the four matches he played, including a win over the then world No 1 Jon Rahm in the singles.
With eight rookies involved in Rome, there are plenty to choose from. All eyes will be on European prodigy Ludvig Aberg, but WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play champion Sam Burns is a dark horse on Team USA.