US Ryder Cup Team 2012: Previewing Team Roster, Captain's Picks and Selections

Carlos TorresContributor ISeptember 27, 2012

US Ryder Cup Team 2012: Previewing Team Roster, Captain's Picks and Selections

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    Team USA will face Team Europe once again at the 39th edition of the Ryder Cup starting this Friday September 28 from the Course 3 at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois.

    The once dominant American team wants to stop Europe's recent domination by reclaiming the Cup it lost at Celtic Manor in 2010.

    To do this, the Americans must win outright by earning 14.5 points of the 28 that are up for grabs. This includes 12 points in singles matches on Sunday.

    The Americans have the overall edge in wins with a record of 25-11-2, but the Euros have won six of the last eight and have tilted the power balance their way.

    Both squads are loaded, but the Americans have a very strong and balanced team that features 11 of the 12 players ranked inside the top 17 in the world—one of the strongest teams in recent years.

    The benefits of the home crowd roars and cheers, added to the fact that most of this players are as a team playing much better than their European counterparts going into the weekend should give USA fans hopes of a win on Sunday.

    One thing is assured, we are in for a thrilling three-day roller coaster ride of emotions that would rival Bizarro at Six Flags.

    Let's take a look at each of the players on Team USA.

Dustin Johnson

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    Cups Played: 1 (2010)

    Ryder Cup Record: 1-3-1

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: 15th/3,040.020 (Captain's Pick)

    Johnson had to take some time off earlier in the year due to back injury just as he was returning from a knee injury.

    He is one of the longest hitters in the game (fourth in driving distance on the PGA) and quite probably the most athletic. He has one win and nine top 10 finishes this year on the PGA Tour which is just one less than Rory McIlroy and Bo Van Pelt.

    That includes four consecutive top 10 finishes in the FedEx Cup which helped him finish seventh in the point standings.

    His recent play suggests he is rounding into his top form and that could spell trouble for Team Europe.

    If he is paired with a player that could complement him like a Zach Johnson or Brandt Snedeker, they could form a formidable duo.

Brandt Snedeker

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    Cups Played: Rookie

    Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: 13th/3,176.787 (Captain's Pick)

    The FedEx Cup champ just validated his Captain's Pick status with his remarkable performance capturing the FedEx Cup title.

    He has two wins and seven top 10 finishes this year, one of the wins being the Tour Championship this past weekend. 

    Snedeker led the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained-Putting by a mile with an average of .860, that was .63 over Luke Donald who finished second.

    He has all the confidence in the world coming into the Ryder Cup and that will help given the fact that this will be his debut on the competition.

    A pairing with Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson or even Tiger Woods could prove to be deadly for the Euros, since he would complement those long hitters with his putting prowess.

Jim Furyk

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    Cups Played: 7 (1997-99-2002-04-06-08)

    Ryder Cup Record: 8-15-4

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: 11th/3,369.616 (Captain's Pick)

    Furyk has no wins and seven top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year.

    He is making his eighth Cup appearance, but his pick this time was a little controversial to say the least.

    Among some of the reasons, the heartbreaking leads blown at the U.S. Open and the WGC Bridgestone this year, and his terrible Ryder Cup record.

    But since he was named a Captain's Pick, Furyk has picked up his game and even finished climbing three spots in the final week to finish 15th in the FedEx Cup.

    He is gaining momentum and when Furyk is on, we all have seen he can beat anybody. He is third in scrambling and scoring average on the PGA Tour.

    Furyk just needs to control his nerves closing and would need a partner that can carry that burden down the stretch if it comes down to it.

    Will he be able to play in the foursomes or four-balls? Remains to be seen.

Steve Stricker

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    Cups Played: 2 (2008-10)

    Ryder Cup Record: 3-3-1

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: 10th/4,015.069 (Captain's Pick)

    Stricker has one win and a second-place finish among his seven top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year.

    He is far removed from the form that made him the top American ranked player going as high as No. 3 in the world last year.

    Since late last year he has been dealing with the struggles of an on-and-off neck injury, and while he is still a very effective and accurate player, Stricker is not coming to the Ryder Cup riding high.

    He dropped seven spots on the last week of the FedEx Cup playoffs to finish 20th and has been out of the top 10 in the world rankings since tied for 50th at The Memorial.

    Stricker led the PGA Tour in Proximity to Hole, he just haven't been sinking the putts the way he is used to.

    He is still very serviceable as his putting is still far better than most and could complement anybody on the team.

    He will most likely see action alongside Tiger Woods with whom he went 2-1-0 in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

Phil Mickelson

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    Cups Played: 8 (1995-97-99-2002-04-06-08-10)

    Ryder Cup Record: 11-17-6

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Eight/4,233.108

    The veteran Mickelson has one win, two second-place and on third-place finishes among his seven top 10s this year on the PGA Tour.

    He is one of the big three Ryder Cup veterans in the American squad, and just like the other two, he has struggled mightily on it.

    He started the year on fire but then all of a sudden faded during the summer and even claimed suffering from fatigue withdrawing from The Memorial.

    One of the big questions for Team USA is with whom will he be paired with and if he will play all the sessions.

    If this would be a contest about inventive, a pairing of Mickelson with Bubba Watson would be priceless.

    Keegan Bradley seems to be an option, but he would be better suited being paired with someone like Webb Simpson or Zach Johnson.

Matt Kuchar

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    Cups Played: 1 (2010)

    Ryder Cup Record: 1-1-2

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Seventh/4,448.942

    Kuchar just finished 18th in the FedEx Cup and but is one of the most consistent performers in golf today.

    Just like Luke Donald he is a top-10 finish waiting to happen.

    He is fifth on the PGA in scoring average and got the biggest win of his career when he won The Players Championship and has nine top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year.

    The big question with him is how he translates those top-10 finishes capability with a way to contribute in a team, specially at a course like Medinah.

    This will be his second Ryder Cup and captain Davis Love III must find a good playing partner for him that would benefit from his consistency, although he has not been on top of his game lately.

Zach Johnson

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    Cups Played: 2 (2006-10)

    Ryder Cup Record: 3-3-1

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Sixth/4,491.544

    Johnson has two wins and two second-place finishes among his six top 10s this year on the PGA Tour.

    He finished 12th on the FedEx Cup sliding down three spots on the final week.

    At one point on the year, Johnson was red hot, winning for the second time in the year after his win at the John Deere, which he followed up with a top 10 finish at The Open.

    But then he went into a slump that ended with consecutive top-15 finishes in the last two events of the FedEx Cup.

    This will be his third Ryder Cup and he holds one of the three even records in the American team. While that hardly spells dominance, he certainly has shown being competitive.

    He is another player like many of the American team that is gaining momentum as the Ryder Cup approaches.

    He would be better served being paired with one of the heavy hitters like Bubba Watson or Dustin Johnson, but could also complement scrambling players like Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.

Webb Simpson

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    Cups Played: Rookie

    Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Fifth/4,635.500

    Simpson has one win (U.S. Open) and a third-place finish among his seven top 10s this year on the PGA.

    Last year he was just a step from winning the FedEx Cup, but this year he was a non-factor although he finished climbing up nine spots on the final week to finish 16th.

    He went into a funk after his U.S. Open win, but you could attribute that to the rustiness he had due to the time off to attend the birth of his second child.

    His finish this last weekend could indicate that he is yet another American player rounding into form at the right moment.

    Simpson is a rock-solid player that, even for a Ryder Cup rookie, has the mental toughness that requires to rise up to the occasion.

    He is a very versatile player that would complement anyone he is paired with. At last year's Presidents Cup he looked great most of the time playing alongside Bubba Watson, and that could be a possibility here.

Keegan Bradley

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    Cups Played: Rookie

    Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Fourth/5,551.206

    Bradley won last year's PGA Championship on his major debut. Since then he has been a model of inconsistency.

    He has one win, one second-place and a third-place among his five top 10s on the PGA Tour this year. This gives you and idea of the all-or-nothing performance that seems to characterize him.

    Bradley is another rookie on the team that will be unfazed by the event. He has ice in his veins and is a fiery competitor.

    His lone win this year was at the WGC Bridgestone, and he followed that up with a tied for third-place finish trying to defend his PGA Championship title.

    After that, he went into another slump, which could be a good thing considering that he gets out of them with top performances and the Ryder Cup is just the kind of event he relishes.

    He could pair very well with the player he defeated in a playoff to win the PGA Championship last year, Jason Dufner.

Jason Dufner

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    Cups Played: Rookie

    Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Third/5,697.302

    Dufner was at one point in the year the hottest player on tour. In a five-tournament span, he won twice, finished second (Crowne Plaza) and fourth (U.S. Open) once.

    That to be counted among his eight top-10 finishes this year on the PGA Tour.

    He ranks third on the PGA Tour in Proximity to Hole and fourth in Green in Regulation and Scoring Average.

    Dufner has been a ball-striking machine for most of the year and is someone that could pair well with anybody on the team.

    He is a Team USA Ryder Cup rookie, but like all the others, he has an unflappable attitude that will take him to perform well and is a must-play all three days.

Bubba Watson

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    Cups Played: 1 (2010)

    Ryder Cup Record: 1-3-0

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: Second/5,815.054

    Watson was at his peak when he won The Masters this year and then had to take some time off which included missing The Players Championship to spend more time with his then-recent family addition, his adopted son Caleb and wife, Angie.

    Besides his major win, he has two second-place finishes among his seven top 10s this year on the PGA Tour.

    He finished 13th on the FedEx Cup but has been gaining momentum on his last two tournaments which includes a tied for fifth finish at the Tour Championship this past weekend.

    He leads the PGA Tour in Driving Distance and is second in Greens in Regulation. That is a deadly combination of strength and accuracy that makes Watson a must-play on all three days.

    It shouldn't be difficult to find him a partner to complement him, given how many versatile players are on the American team.

    Watson is one of the best players in the world creating shots, and at a course like Medinah, he will be feasting every day.

    A pairing with the best putter in the game, Brandt Snedeker, is exactly what is left to complement Watson's game. They should form a formidable tandem that could go unbeaten.

Tiger Woods

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    Cups Played: Six (1997-99-2002-04-06-10)

    Ryder Cup Record: 13-14-2

    USA Ryder Cup Position/Points: First/6,014.184

    Woods has three wins, one second-place and two third-place finishes among his nine top 10s this year on the PGA Tour.

    He led at one point the FedEx Cup and had a chance to win it this past weekend with a win. He gave his fans hope when he was the co-leader after the first round, but like it has been almost the norm as of late he faded in the latter stages.

    Woods is second in Scoring Average and fourth in Scrambling on the PGA Tour this year.

    He has played in every single Ryder Cup session since he debuted back in 1997.

    His strength on the Ryder Cup is his singles play where he has a record of 4-1-1. His struggles have been in the team format where he is 9-13-1.

    He has been faring better as of late going 6-3-0, including the 2-1-0 with Stricker in 2010 at Celtic Manor.

    Woods is the anchor of the American team once again, and what a better course to do it than the one where he has won two of his 14 major championships.