ALL Ryder Cups are exciting, but some are more exciting than others.

The latest instalment of golf’s greatest rivalry, which begins at Le Golf National on the outskirts of Paris tomorrow morning, looks set to be a classic. Rarely, if ever, have the two sides representing Europe and the United States boasted greater depth or been better balanced.

The bookmakers make the US marginal favourites, a reflection of the strength at the top of Jim Furyk’s line-up. The US team boasts the winner of six of the last eight Majors, and six members of the world’s current top ten.

Dustin Johnson is the world number one, Brooks Koepka is a double Major winner in the last 12 months alone, Patrick Reed is the Masters champion and the US hero from their win at Hazeltine two years ago, and Jordan Spieth has a proven record as a formidable match-play player.

Oh yes, and there’s also some chap called Tiger Woods who will be desperate to make his mark over the next three days.

Woods’ remarkable win at the Tour Championship last weekend capped one of the greatest comebacks in sport, let alone on a golf course, and while the 14-time Major winner has a poor Ryder Cup record, there have been signs over the last few days that he has finally come to terms with the unique demands of the team context that sets the competition apart.

Throughout the golden years of his career, Woods was the ultimate individualist. That counted against him when he teed up in the Ryder Cup – especially when his supposed team-mate Phil Mickelson was every bit as self-absorbed – but having spent some time outside the ropes when he was a non-playing vice-captain at Hazeltine, Woods appears to have discovered the merits of being a team player.

The team ethos will be integral to the American’s prospects this weekend as it is not just Woods who has shelved his former antipathy to the Ryder Cup environment. The emerging generation of US golfers – Reed, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau – grew up in an era when the Ryder Cup became something of a Holy Grail on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

A run of European success resulted in sustained criticism of the US’s failure to cultivate a team ethic. That fostered something of a siege mentality, not to mention a fair degree of soul-searching, and the result was the ‘boot-room’ approach that propelled the US to victory two years ago.

Unlike some of its predecessors, this is a US team boasting a bond that is every bit as strong as the one pulling the Europeans together.

That said though, I’d still favour Europe. Thomas Bjorn’s team might not boast as many Major winners as the opposition, but in Justin Rose, only recently deposed from the world number one spot, Rory McIlroy, back in form after a somewhat up and down year, Francesco Molinari, the Open champion, and Tommy Fleetwood, arguably the most consistent player in the world this year, the Europeans can call on some seriously heavy hitters.

In the past, the inexperience of their rookies has counted against them, but that is not the case this time around. Jon Rahm might be a Ryder Cup novice, but the Spaniard is a seasoned campaigner at the very highest level. The same is true of Fleetwood, and even Tyrrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen, who the Americans might well be targeting as weak links.

Then, of course, there is Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, Bjorn’s wildcard picks who consistently raise their game another two or three levels when they pull on a European team shirt.

Both were absolutely desperate to make the team, and their experience should be a major advantage to the hosts, especially if they are paired with one of the rookies in either the fourballs or foursomes.

Man for man, the Europeans just about edge the US side, and their extensive experience of the Le Golf National set-up should give them an even bigger advantage as they tee up for the opening fourballs tomorrow.

The decision to take the Ryder Cup to France was a commendable attempt to increase golf’s profile and popularity in one of the few continental European nations where it is yet to really take hold, but there are also practical benefits to staging the event on a course that is rarely afforded any time in the limelight.

Only three American players have played a competitive round at Le Golf National, and two – Reed and Bubba Watson – missed the cut at the French Open. Thomas finished eighth in the tournament this year, but the rest of the US side hadn’t even set foot on the course prior to touching down at the start of this week.

Contrast that to the Europeans. Fleetwood and Alex Noren have both won the French Open. Molinari boasts three second-placed finishes at Le Golf National. Poulter, McIlroy and Olesen have all finished in the top five.

“It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played,” said Poulter, earlier this week. “So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

Le Golf National is a quirky course, boasting plenty of water and demanding some creative shot-making rather than the booming drives that tend to be the Americans’ forte. Two years ago, on home soil, the US side were able to unleash their drivers and play target golf into receptive pin positions at the heart of the green.

The next three days will provide a far more challenging test, and if the likes of Johnson and Reed think they can overpower Le Golf National, they will quickly meet their comeuppance. Keeping the ball in play will be key, and the Europeans know where the dangers lie. That should be a huge advantage.

Home support should also be a factor – the Americans are notoriously volatile when things are not going their way – and for all that they have enjoyed a fair amount of recent success on their own side of the pond, the US have not won a Ryder Cup at a European venue since 1993, when they triumphed at The Belfry.

There won’t be much in it this weekend, but I expect Europe to have regained the trophy when the final concessions are made on Sunday.