Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ryder Cup Preview

The Ryder Cup starts on Friday, and U.S. golf fans are hunkered down in anticipation of the usual defeat.  But the United States is at home this time, and the Americans have won two of the last three Ryder Cups played on home soil.  They scraped home in 1999, were crushed in 2004, and rolled to a surprisingly easy victory in 2008.  Given the Americans generally abysmal record in recent Ryder Cups -- Tiger Woods, for example, has played on one winning team and five losing teams -- it is difficult for us to be optimistic about their chances this time.  However, we will note that Ladbrokes is giving odds of 4 to 6 on the Americans, while you get 6 to 4 if you take the Euros.  (It's 10-1 if you want to bet on a 14-14 tie).  In other words, the Americans are slight favorites.  That sounds about right, but I would feel much better if Davis Love were not the American captain.

In reality, it should be a ding-dong competition.  There have been few years when both teams fielded stronger sides.  Here are your players, along with their current World Golf Rankings in parentheses:

TEAM USA (Davis Love III, Captain)
Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA Champion (14)
Jason Dufner (9)
Jim Furyk (23)
Dustin Johnson (13)
Zach Johnson (17)
Matt Kuchar (15)
Phil Mickelson (16)
Brandt Snedeker,2012 FedEx Champion (10)
Webb Simpson, 2012 U.S. Open Champion (8)
Steve Stricker (12)
Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters Champion (7)
Tiger Woods (2)

TEAM EUROPE (Jose Maria Olazabal, Captain)
Nicolas Colsaerts (35)
Luke Donald (3)
Sergio Garcia (19)
Peter Hanson (25)
Martin Kaymer (32)
Paul Lawrie (28)
Graeme McDowell (18)
Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open Champion, 2012 PGA Champion) (1)
Francesco Molinari (31)
Ian Poulter (26)
Justin Rose (5)
Lee Westwood (4)

The rankings for the 12 U.S. players add up to 145, for an average ranking of 12.1  The rankings for the 12 European players add up to 227, for an average ranking of 18.9.  The U.S. seems to have a slightly deeper team, but the Europeans have four of the top five players in the world -- while the only top-5 American is Tiger, who is only 13-14-2 in his Ryder Cup matches.

I dislike the Medinah Country Club, where the matches are being played.  Because Chicago is such an important city, Medinah regularly gets the chance to host major tournaments, and I have always found it to be one of the most forgettable of all major venues.   The one good thing about it from the American perspective is that Tiger has played well there in the past, and that Tiger usually plays well in the Chicago area.

On the whole, the Americans probably have the slight edge suggested by the oddsmakers -- but I'm very concerned about Davis Love as the Captain.  I think that Olazabal will outsmart Love, and that the Americans will find a way to blow it on Sunday afternoon.  My prediction is that Europe will pull out a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory.


  1. It should be noted that the US won the Junior title for the third straight time.

    You can read about it here.

  2. It should also be noted that Great Britain & Ireland currently hold both the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup, and that Europe currently holds the Solheim Cup.