Davis Love III (right) and Jose Maria Olazabal will try to find great Ryder Cup players
With its match play format of winning holes and not posting scores, the Ryder Cup is a very different animal for the 24 best professionals in the United States and Europe.
And while it comes down to great players hitting great shots in critical moments, there are definitely some players who are better in the Ryder Cup format than others.
Whether it’s because of their length, their experience or their putting, here are five guys who should do well this week at Medinah Country Club.
If Dustin Johnson drives it well this week, he could be big.
Long by any measurement, there isn’t a golf course in existence that Dustin Johnson can’t overpower.
He was fourth in driving distance on the PGA Tour this year at 310.2, and while he wasn’t necessarily the straightest driver (he hit just 56.3 percent of the fairways), that won’t be a big deal at Medinah.
U.S. captain Davis Love III has made sure that the rough will be relatively short and light so birdies will be plentiful.
He made 251 birdies (one every 3.75 holes) and eight eagles this year. His aggressive style gives him a chance to be a star.
Swinging pink is cute, but Bubba-Golf is much more than that.
Even longer than Johnson, Bubba Watson averaged 315.5 yards per measured drive, the best on the PGA Tour.
He was a little more accurate, hitting 69.9 percent of greens in regulation.
He, too, made 251 birdies but had 13 eagles.
Watson brings a great deal of creativity to the Ryder Cup, and the combination of that creativity and his ability to bomb the ball make him somebody who could be big.
By the way, Johnson and Watson both have a 1-3-0 record in the Ryder Cup.
Europe's Nicolas Colsaerts hopes to be holding the Ryder Cup as a winner Sunday night.
The 30-year-old Belgian native is the only rookie on the European team.
He won’t act like a rookie, however. He comes in as longest driver of the 24 at Medinah, averaging 317 yards per measured drive this year.
Like Watson and Johnson, Colsaerts has a chance to be a dominant force in the proceedings. Three years ago, he was ranked 1,305th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Sergio Garcia has been tough on American Ryder Cup teams.
Sergio Garcia has a Ryder Cup aura about him based partially on how well he has played in past events.
And the numbers would back that up: He’s 14-6-4 overall, but a measly 1-4-0 in singles.
He’s been especially good in foursomes, having only ever surrendered half a point in nine outings.
He finished off the season with four top-25 finishes, making him Europe’s hottest player.
Steve Stricker is as good a pressure putter as anyone in golf.
The Ryder Cup, despite its different format, is like every other golf tournament: It all boils down to putting.
Europe’s recent success in the event can be traced to the fact that the team from across the ocean got the ball into the hole a lot better than the Americans.
That is precisely one of the reasons Steve Stricker continues to make U.S. teams.
He has a 3-3-1 record, but his unquestioned ability with the flat stick makes him a key component.
He won’t hit drives anywhere near where the big boys mentioned previously will, but he could easily be the MVP of the U.S. team.