2012 Ryder Cup Teams: Most Important Golfers for United States and Europe

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2012

DORAL, FL - MARCH 13:  Dustin Johnson watches his tee shot on the second hole as Luke Donald of England looks onduring the final round of the 2011 WGC- Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa on March 13, 2011 in Doral, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Ryder Cup rosters were finalized on Tuesday when United States captain Davis Love III made his four choices to complete the team. The Americans will be looking to win the title back after Europe secured a narrow one-point victory two years ago.

While all 24 golfers are going to have a pretty large impact on the outcome of the popular event, each side has one player they are relying on to come up big at Medinah Country Club. Let's examine who they are and why their play will be so important later this month.


United States: Dustin Johnson

Johnson was on the losing American team four years ago, earning his only point with a singles victory over Martin Kaymer. He participated in three doubles events and lost them all, which is one of the main reasons the Americans fell short. 

He'll now be looking for redemption. The 28-year-old South Carolina native has been in terrific form as of late. He finished third in The Barclays and backed it up with a fourth-place finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

When Johnson is playing up to his potential, he's one of the top five golfers in the world. Unfortunately, he's been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career. There's no better example of that than his win in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, which he followed by a missed cut the very next week.

He can hit the ball as far as anyone off the tee and his putting has improved markedly over the past year. However, the key to success is still controlling his power. It doesn't matter how far Johnson hits it if he's always playing his second shot from the rough.

Johnson secured his berth on the squad with his strong play recently. If he can carry that over to the Ryder Cup, the chances of an American victory will skyrocket. He's the one guy capable of turning a good team into a great team.


Europe: Luke Donald

Donald has a history of struggling in major tournaments. He's never finished better than third in any of the four biggest events, which made his No. 1 ranking ring hollow when he sat in the top spot. It's hard to be the best without winning a major.

Having said that, he did have a good showing at the last Ryder Cup, winning a critical singles match over Jim Furyk. Europe's chances of retaining the title are largely dependent on which version of Donald shows up—the one who shined two years ago or the one who has struggled in big events.

He plays a simple game, which lends itself to this event, especially when playing alternate shot doubles. The Englishman usually finds the fairway and is one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, making him an ideal partner for a more erratic player.

Like Johnson, he should be happy where his game currently stands. He has three top-10 finishes in his last five starts and has only missed one cut all season. Now he just needs to take his game to the next level for the Ryder Cup.

The event should come right down to the end again since the teams are so evenly matched. Donald must put his major struggles behind him and replicate his success from two years ago if Europe wants to maintain control of the title.