September 24, 2012
This weekend is the phenomenon in golf known as the Ryder Cup. The 39th matches will be held at Medinah Country Club just outside of Chicago beginning on Friday, with the conclusion as always on Sunday with the 12 singles matches.
The Americans will be seeking to retain the Cup from the European team, who took back the Cup in 2010 at Celtic Manor in Wales. Since 1985, the Europeans are 9-4 against the Americans. The Americans have won the matches only one other time since the 1999 “Miracle at Brookline”, that was at Valhalla in 2008.
As we enter this pressure-packed week, the United States team has only one player on its squad raked outside the top 20 in the world, that player being Ryder Cup veteran Jim Furyk, who is ranked, 27th.
The Europeans have 3 of the top 4 players in the world with world number 1 Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald who is 3rd, and Lee Westwood who is 4th. After that their team has only one other player ranked in the top 10, that being Englishman Justin Rose who is raked 8th fresh off of a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Six of the final 8 members on the European team are currently ranked outside the top 20.
However, 9 of the 12 members on the European team have a winning record in Ryder Cup play. The European team has only one player making his Ryder Cup debut, that being Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts who won the Volvo World Match Play in Spain earlier this year. So, he does know match play, and has distance off the tee that could key the European side to victory.
The only weakness I see in this gritty American side is the fact that they have 4 Ryder Cup rookies. Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker have never experienced the cauldron that is the Ryder Cup. That being said, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson are now both major champions, and Brandt Snedeker is fresh off his win at the Tour Championship, which also earned him the FedEx Cup. Jason Dufner, who had two wins in 2012, finished the season 4th in total driving, which is a combination of distance and accuracy and was also 4th in greens in regulation.
The experience of the American team with those 4 rookies in combination with the European team having 9 of their 12 players with a winning record in Ryder Cup play means the 39th edition of these matches should author one of the best finishes in the event’s history.
I’m taking the Americans on their home turf. The crowd at Medinah will help those rookies make a few more putts, and shake up the Europeans into one too many mistakes. The final tally: United States- 15 Europe- 13