The 2014 Ryder Cup starts on Friday, September 26th, as the golf team from Europe, the reigning champions, takes on the team from the United States at the Gleneagles Resort in Gleneagles, Scotland. The U.S. leads this competition, which is held every two years. The U.S. has 25 wins, 12, losses, and 2 ties, while the European/Great Britain/Ireland teams are at 12-25-2. (Originally, this competition was between the U.S. and Great Britain or Great Britain and Ireland; in 1977 European players were added.)
In order to win the cup, the current holders of the title must score 14 points; for the current champs to be dethroned, their opponents must earn 14.5 points. Points are earned in match play with a team receiving one point for winning a round and a half-point for a tie. There are 12 players on each team, and every player does not have to participate in every round. Although the U.S. has the most wins, Europe has won three straight, and they are favored to win the Ryder Cup once again.
How will Tom Watson handle the matchups in this Ryder Cup? His ability to put together the right teams will be important. Team members Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley have prior success in this event. That experience may be a big help to the team from the United States.
There are various grinders on the club, and they will certainly be valuable in a competition that calls for grit and determination, as golfers traverse a very tough course. Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson are precision golfers; they wonâ€™t hit the ball a mile, but they will place it where it should be.
Look for Rickie Fowler to play a big role on this team. Fowler is 25 years old, ranked 10th in the world, and has placed in the top five of the four majors this year. Heâ€™s got flare, style, and the ability to get the ball in the cup under par again and again. In the last few months, heâ€™s playing the best golf of anyone in the world.
At 44 years old, Phil Mickelson brings the experience of nine Ryder Cups with him. His overall record is 14-18-6. Look for the cagey veteran to thrive on the energy of some of his younger colleagues. He could be instrumental at crucial moments.
Paul McGinley, the Captain for Europe, is a first-time captain who is playing in his fourth Ryder Cup. Each time he has played, his team has taken the Cup. Heâ€™s savvy and experienced.
Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher are all making their Ryder Cup debuts. Donaldson, who is 38, has had one of the best seasons of his career, while 24-year-old Victor Dubuisson from France, who notched 10th place finishes at the British Open and the PGA Championship, is enjoying a breakthrough year. Gallacher, who is 39 years old, is from Scotland and a hometown favorite.
Thereâ€™s a lot of experience on this team, including Thomas Bjorn, 43 years old from Denmark, who has been on two winning Ryder Cup teams; Sergio Garcia, who after playing in six Cups (4 of which his team won) has amassed an impressive record of 16-8-4 record; and Graeme McDowell, who is on his fourth team and has a 5-5-2 record.
Justin Rose, from England, is the 2013 U.S. Open champ; Ian Poulter (12-3-0), on his fifth Ryder Cup team, was inspirational in the last Cup; and 41-year-old Lee Westwood, who has been on eight teams and has 18 wins, 13 losses and six ties, brings a load of leadership with his winning ways.
Finally, there is Rory McIlroy. McIlroy, who is ranked first in the world, has played on the previous two winning Ryder Cup teams. His 4-3-2 record is good, but less than impressive. This is the year for him to excel in this competition.
Everyone says that this is Europeâ€™s Ryder Cup to lose. Thereâ€™s no doubt that they have the top-ranked golfer, McIlroy, on their team. Plus, so much of the European team brings winning Ryder Cup experience to the current competition. But watch out for Fowler of the U.S.. He could be the dark horse here. Plus, you canâ€™t help but think that Mickelson, along with a strong group of guys who really want to win, might just pull an upset.