Ryder Cup 2012: European Stars Who Will Shine Brightest in Clash vs. USA
Thanks to the PGA Tour playoffs, many of the world's best golfers are undergoing a high-intensity tuneup for the 2012 Ryder Cup.
The latest intercontinental clash will sport many stars from both sides, but particular European stars may turn the tables on the matchup against the USA, a team that has recently relied on making up ground in singles play.
Here are the European stars who will shine brightest at Medinah.
To put it mildly, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman is on an absolute tear. Everyone ready to put the Tiger Woods comparisons to bed may be eating their words soon, as it looks like McIlroy is beginning to harness the limitless ability his peers rave about.
A tough stretch to start the summer wound up being good for McIlroy, who roared back to win the PGA Championship by eight strokes. Now, he has won the past two FedEx Cup playoff events.
Is there any more proof necessary that McIlroy is the real deal? How about last Thursday's first round at the BMW Championship?
McIlroy, playing alongside Tiger, watches the 14-time major winner fire a seven-under-par 65. He responds with a 64 of his own.
A Sunday tangle with Tiger may await during Ryder Cup singles play, and it's been proven that McIlroy rises to the occasion when he squares off against his childhood golfing idol.
A likely pairing with best friend Graeme McDowell in team play will also give McIlroy plenty of good vibes. It's hard to see that tandem losing a single match.
Not to mention, the long track at Medinah suits McIlroy's power-driven, aggressive style very well.
The key to McIlroy's recent dominance, though, is found in an aspect of his game that has been traditionally inconsistent.
To paraphrase a line from Happy Gilmore...
"[Rory] learned how to putt. Uh-oh!"
Speaking of a long-hitting horse for the Course No. 3, the captain's pick Colsaerts is going to be a hoot for Team Europe on and off the course.
Colsaerts averages 317 yards off the tee, highest of any professional golfer on the entire planet. That intimidating length will allow the Muscles from Brussels to even leave Team USA's Bubba Watson speechless.
Speaking of which, a Colsaerts-Watson match would be among the most entertaining in recent Ryder Cup memory. Hopefully the Sunday singles play brings that in.
As one who never shies away from a party—often to the detriment of his European Tour status—Colsaerts' free-spirited attitude is just the type of personality that is fit to thrive on Team Europe.
The tall and handsome Colsaerts has endured his share of struggles. According to a feature in GolfPunk Magazine, he lost his playing card three times across the pond.
This year, Colsaerts has fought his way back and finally capitalized on his talent. The biggest highlight of 2012 was undoubtedly his breakthrough victory at the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
He beat world-class players such as Charl Schwartzel, Team USA's Brandt Snedeker and Ryder Cup teammates Paul Lawrie, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell in the final.
Clearly Colsaerts knows how to get it done in the match play format, and Jose Maria Olazabal will know he's struck gold once this Ryder Cup is finished.
Taking a week off from the FedEx Cup playoffs may have interrupted his recent resurgence. Then again, Garcia typically marches to the beat of his own drum as much as anyone.
A season of relative obscurity was quickly salvaged in the month of August, as Garcia won the Wyndham Championship and had a tie for third showing at The Barclays.
Those two strong weeks automatically qualified the 32-year-old Spaniard for his sixth Ryder Cup team, and it's no secret that he is a Team USA killer.
Garcia started out the year with poor ball-striking, while the putter that usually let him down was uncharacteristically hot.
Thanks to a new claw grip with the flatblade and far more consistency from tee to green, Garcia finds himself back among the golfing elite.
Although he may not stand up as well to major championship pressure, Garcia's 14-6-4 in the Ryder Cup speaks for itself.
In his last appearance for Team Europe, Garcia got thrashed by American upstart Anthony Kim 5-and- 4 in singles. He was then not selected to the team in 2010.
Redemption is a huge factor here, and the venue is where Garcia stared down Tiger at the 1999 PGA Championship, ultimately falling a stroke short on Sunday.
All signs point to a continually resurgent Sergio at Medinah.
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