The Ryder Cup will be starting shortly when Phil Michelson and Dustin Johnson, of the U.S. Team, tee off opposite of Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood of Europe. First off, let me say that I am very biased in writing this article, but it doesn’t change what I truly believe. I’m a Detroit Lions fan and while I am biased towards them, I don’t usually expect them to win. If you’re a European, I would expect nothing less than you being biased to your team. The fact of the matter is that I’m an American and I am rooting for my team. However, when analyzing the golfers and the matchups, I truly believe that the U.S. Team will take their second straight Ryder Cup victory.
For starters, I think the major advantage started when the coaches picked their teams. Corey Pavin did a much better job putting together a top flight roster. Colin Montgomerie, on the other hand, left off two of the best players in the world, Paul Casey and Justin Rose. Rose is an outstanding 5-1-1 in his Ryder Cup career. The problem is not only who he left out, but also the players that he chose over them. Edoardo Molinari may be a solid, up-and-coming golfer, but with no Ryder Cup experience, how can you leave these other guys out in favor of Molinari. In the four Major Championships this year, Molinari’s best finish was 27th. He also failed to even make the cut in the Masters.
The other questionable pick is Padraig Harrington. Now, I have a lot of respect for Harrington’s game, but he has had a pretty dismal year and doesn’t deserve to make the team over Casey or Rose. It’s been two years since he’s won a golf tournament and in his last nine Ryder Cup match-ups, he is a terrible 0-7-2. Before the tournament even started, Montgomerie hurt his teams chances of beating the defending champion U.S. team.
On the American side of things, there is a lot of talent one through twelve. I do wish that Corey Pavin would take his drill sergeant attitude and lighten up a little bit. This is a golf tournament and he needs to loosen up and enjoy himself a bit. It’s one thing to take things seriously, but Pavin is going a bit overboard.
Pavin made his best coaching decision when he decided to include Tiger Woods on this year’s roster. It would be absurd not to have the world’s no. 1 golfer competing for the U.S., and Tiger should shine this weekend. Pairing him with Steve Stricker was his second best decision and I’m almost willing to say that this pairing will be a guaranteed lock for the Americans on Friday morning.
Another story line to watch is the play of Lee Westwood. For the Europeans to have a chance to win, Westwood is going to have to have a solid weekend. He has been off for nearly two months due to a leg injury. It appears that Westwood’s injury has healed, but there is bound to be some rust after the layoff. Westwood is in position to take over Tiger Woods no. 1 world ranking over the next few weeks, but that will not happen if he is still reeling from his calf injury.
The only mistake I’ve seen Pavin make so far is deciding to sit Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan for the opening round on Friday morning. Furyk is coming off the biggest weekend of his career, winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, while Mahan is undefeated in his Ryder Cup Career. Instead, Pavin will go with rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton. This could be a costly mistake for Pavin, but I don’t feel like it will be enough for the Europeans to overtake the Americans.
As I said above, I think the Americans have more talent from top to bottom and that will be the difference. Don't get me wrong, both teams have solid overall rosters, but the Americans are slightly better. They have five of the top six money winners on the PGA Tour this year and Tiger Woods isn't one of them. The Europeans only have three of the top ten, but guess who two of them are? That's right, Paul Casey and Dustin Rose. The Americans are just having the better individual years and that will carry over into the Ryder Cup.
I know that the U.S. Team, despite winning the last Cup, hasn’t had the best of luck in this event over the past decade, but I think we’re seeing a changing of the guard. The near decade of emptiness will be erased with two straight victories. Look for the Americans, who need 14 points to secure the victory, to score 16 or 17 in the win.