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2010 Ryder Cup: Upon Further Review, the Americans May Just Retain the Cup

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2010

MILWAUKEE - AUGUST 16:  Corey Pavin team captain of the 2010 USA Ryder Cup attends a press conference on August 16, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Three months ago the PGA of America might have been better off simply handing the Ryder Cup over to the Europeans.  They would have avoided an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Europeans while also saving a boat load of money by not having to charter a commercial jet, pay for luxury accommodations, gourmet meals, uniforms, etc.

Back in June the Europeans were looking so strong that regaining the Ryder Cup from the Americans was as close as you could possibly get to a forgone conclusion in sports.  However, fast forward three months and that conclusion is not nearly as forgone as it was back in June.

A large portion of the American side will enter the 2010 Ryder Cup matches red hot, while many of the Europeans' big guns are about as cold as the 42 degree temperatures in Wales at the moment.  

Europe has five players currently ranked within the top 10 in the World Golf rankings, although only four of those players will be making the trip to Wales for the Ryder Cup matches.  Colin Montgomerie inexplicably left Paul Casey, the No. 7 ranked player in the world, off of the European Ryder Cup team.

The American side also has five players within the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings, all of whom will be making the trip to Wales in October.

Europe’s biggest guns during the past few Ryder Cup matches have been Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey.

Westwood has been out with an injury since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational,  Garcia has been reduced to an “assistant captain,” and Paul Casey will be mountain biking through Canada while his compatriots are attempting to regain the cup in Wales.

U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell has been hibernating since Pebble Beach, Rory McIlroy has not played good golf since the PGA Championship, Padraig Harrington hasn’t won a sanctioned event in more than two years, and no one quite knows how Ross Fisher and Peter Hanson even made the European squad.

The biggest liability of all for the European side might actually be the captain, Colin Montgomerie.  If history is anything to go by, it’s extremely likely that Montgomerie will say or do something to create some kind of controversial firestorm during the course of Ryder Cup week.

The only Europeans heading into the Ryder Cup on a hot streak are Martin Kaymer, who has won his last two events including the PGA Championship; Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has won three times this year on the European Tour including his last appearance at the European Masters; and Eduardo Molinari, who won the Johnny Walker Championship two weeks ago and finished second at the European Masters.

If the Ryder Cup matches had taken place three months ago, this European squad would have probably decimated the Americans.  However, as we all know, golf is a fickle game that tends to come and go at the drop of a hat, and right now most of the European side is not even close to peak form heading into the 2010 Ryder Cup matches.

The American side, on the other hand, is hotter than ever.

Aside from Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson are arguably the hottest players on the planet right now.  Steve Stricker has finished outside of the top 10 just once since the Open Championship and Jim Furyk has three top 15 finishes in his past five events.

The big guns of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, although not nearly at their top form, seem to be improving by the day.

Zach Johnson has finished outside the top 25 just once since the PGA Championship where he tied for third.  Then we have the beasts, Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, that will be flying the ball 340 yards on what is expected to be a very soft and wet golf course at Celtic Manner.

Despite the fact that most of the American team is playing better golf than the European team heading into the matches, the Europeans are still heavily favored to regain the cup in Wales.

Europeans have won two major championships in 2010, they are hungry to regain the cup and the matches will be taking place on their home soil in Wales.

However, the reasoning behind why the Europeans are such heavy favorites to win the 2010 Ryder Cup matches could actually work against them.  Being heavily favored to regain the cup on your home soil carries with it an immense amount of pressure.

Combine a group of not-so-hot golfers with an extreme amount of pressure, and you might just have a recipe for disaster.  A disaster that a red-hot American squad would gladly take advantage of.   

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