Now that the FedEx Cup playoffs are over, and the individual player accolades can be put on hold, we can focus on the ultimate team event in golf.
The 39th edition of the biennial Ryder Cup match is upon us and starts this Friday, September 28 from the Course 3 at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois.
Twenty-four of the world's best players will gather to be divided in two 12-man teams that will represent the USA and Europe for the right to take home the coveted golden Ryder Cup trophy.
Both teams present very balanced and strong teams that promise to deliver a thrilling finish coming on Sunday with the singles matches.
Both team captains and their assisting staff will be playing chess matches with their lineups, trying to put forth the best combinations on the course.
Let's take a look at a full preview of this weekend's long awaited event.
The legendary wrestler Ric Flair used to say: "To be the man, you have to beat the man!"
There will be 28 total Ryder Cup matches played throughout the three-day competition. Team Europe is the defending champ, so for Team USA to bring back the Cup, they need 14.5 points.
A 14-14 tie means Team Europe will retain the Cup.
Both teams are comprised of 12 team members who currently should be the best in the USA and Europe.
The format of play consists of eight foursome contests, eight four-balls, and 12 singles competitions, all played to 18 holes.
On Friday and Saturday, there will be four foursome matches and four four-ball matches played. On Sunday the 12 singles matches will be played.
The winner of each match earns a point for his team, with one-half point awarded for each tie after 18 holes.
From the official Ryder Cup matches webpage, the tee times for each of the three days will be as follows:
12:05 p.m. or 1:05 p.m.
First Tee Time (Foursomes)
First Tee Time (Four-balls)
First Tee Time (Foursomes)First Tee Time (Four-balls)
|SUNDAY||11:03 a.m.-1:04 p.m.||Singles Tee Times|
All Times CST.
In 1926, an exhibition match between a squad of American professionals and their British counterparts gave way to the team competition we know today as the Ryder Cup.
Its first official match was in 1927, played at the Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts.
The name of the event is in honor of Samuel Ryder, the English businessman who donated the gold trophy that would serve as the prize for the winning team.
Both squads were able to split honors during the initial editions, but as World War II approached, the Americans started to dominate their British opponents.
This led to to the addition of Europeans from Great Britain and Ireland to the unit starting in 1979.
That action restored the balance, with Europe taking the Cup home nine times (including one tie, which helped the Europeans retain it), while the Americans tallied seven wins.
However, that balance has shifted Europe's way most recently with the Euros winning six of the last eight Cups.
The Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois will serve as the host for the 2012 Ryder Cup matches.
It's a private club established in 1924 and has three courses for a total of 54 holes, but it is mostly known for its Course 3 which will be where this weekend's action take place.
Course 3 plays at a par-72 and is 7,658 yards (7,002 m) long. Golf Digest ranks this course 23rd on its renowned list of America's Greatest 100 courses.
Lake Kadijah serves as a beautiful wallpaper for some of the holes. But to the par-three second and 17th holes, it is a very intimidating water hazard since players will have to sharpen their iron shots across the water.
Those par-threes are the shortest holes in the course at 192 (second) and 193 (17th) yards long.
The par-four ninth and 11th holes are two very challenging holes that feature very marked doglegs, which will reward players for their accuracy off the tee. Wisdom will be at a premium there.
In contrast, the heavy hitters will benefit on the longest hole on the course, which is par-five 14th hole. But while it will reward them off the tee, the approach shots must be accurate due to trees along the way and bunkers guarding the green.
Course 3 has hosted five major championships: three U.S. Opens (1949, 1975, 1990) and two PGA Championships (1999, 2006).
Tiger Woods won his fifth major here at the 1999 PGA Championship and the 12th of his career by five shots when the PGA Championship returned in 2006.
Skybet.com Outright Winning Odds: 6/4, 10/1 for a tie
Team Captain: Jose Maria Olazabal
Team Members: Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Lawrie, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Team Europe is loaded with four of the OWGR top-five ranked players (McIlroy, Westwood, Donald and Rose).
But from there the next ones would be McDowell at 18 and Garcia at 19.
Westwood (16-11-6) and Garcia (14-6-4) are by far the two veterans of the group and both have winning records in Cup matches.
From the rest, six players (McIlroy, Rose, Lawrie, Hanson, Kaymer and Molinari) have played only once before and there is one Cup rookie—Colsaerts.
One thing that bodes well for the Euros is that only two (Hanson and Molinari) of the 11 players with Cup experience have losing records.
From top to bottom this is a very balanced and talented group, one of the best in recent memory.
Skybet.com Outright Winning Odds: 8/11, 10/1 for a tie
Team Captain: Davis Love III
Team Members: Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk
Team USA is presenting a loaded squad led by Woods, a 14-time major winner who is ranked No. 2 in the OGWR.
Ten of the remaining 11 players are ranked inside the top 17 in the world, and the other one (Furyk) is ranked No. 23.
The team has three experienced players who have been in more than two editions in Woods, Mickelson and Furyk. But it also brings four rookies (Simpson, Dufner, Snedeker and Bradley) to go along with three players going for their second Cup (Watson, Dustin Johnson and Kuchar.)
Along with the experience factor, Team USA lags behind Team Europe in the winning records department. None of the players with previous experience have a winning record in the Cup matches.
Stricker and Zach Johnson are the ones with the best record of the group as they are an even 3-3-1 each.
Still, Team USA will bring a very strong group of players that are playing their best during this year with two players that won majors this year (Watson and Simpson); the winner of The Players Championship (Kuchar) and multiple tournament winners (Woods, Dufner and Zach Johnson.)
Team USA will win back the Cup, plain and simple.
On paper and numbers-wise, Team Europe looks like they should retain the Cup this year. They possess the more experienced team and four of the top five players in the OWGR.
That alone should be reason enough because if those players win their matches, the Euros will win their seventh Cup in the last nine tries.
Add to this, the fact that Team Europe's players have an outstanding wining record in the Ryder Cup and Team USA looks doomed.
But, 16 of the 28 total points will be decided by team competition events—the foursomes and four-balls.
Team USA has the best overall team, with none of the top 11 players ranked below the 17th spot in the OWGR.
Two (Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson) of the four rookies have won a major within the past year; the third (Brandt Snedeker) just won the FedEx Cup by outfinishing the world's best players and the other (Jason Dufner) has a second place in a major and a couple of wins this year.
Add that Bubba Watson won the Masters this year and Matt Kuchar won The Players Championship.
Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are three crafty veterans that feed on their fans support and they will get plenty of it playing in front of the home country crowd.
The Johnsons, Dustin and Zach, have wins this year with Zach being a two-time winner.
And don't forget Tiger Woods. Even if you want to take aim at his pedestrian record at the Ryder Cup, you cannot overlook the fact that he has won two major championships on this course.
Team Europe has a very talented group, but the team that has individuals playing better this year is the one that will win the Cup, Team USA.