Ryder Cup adds to a huge weekend of sport
With all the excitement around the NRL and AFL grand finals, it had almost slipped under my radar that one of my favourite sporting events will also be played over the weekend.
It’s a competition that won’t be spoiled by a refereeing decision or by a player cheating. There will be gamesmanship but no sledging. The crowd will likely be loud, partisan yet sporting.
On top of that there is no prize money – players will be out there for the love of the game and love of their team with the millions of dollars made all going to charity.
If it all sounds like a hit and a giggle I can assure you it is anything but. This will be competitive and some golfers will show a level of passion that only gets displayed when playing in a team.
For some, their goal for the year was just to make the side. For those who win, regardless of what they have achieved individually, it will be a career highlight, something they will look back on forever with pride.
The 39th Ryder Cup will take place at the par 72 Medinah Country Club in Illinois, a particular happy hunting ground for Tiger Woods, who has won the last two major championships played at the course (the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships). The course has traditionally favoured the big hitters; however with three waterfront par 3s, accuracy will certainly be a factor.
As always, it will be played over three days. Days one and two will consist of four foursome (alternate shot) matches in each morning session and four fourball (better ball) matches in each afternoon session.
With only eight of the squad of twelve playing each session, the captain’s selections will be vital.
The final day will consist of 12 nail-biting singles matches.
The questions everyone’s asking is who will win?
The bookies have installed the U.S.A as slight favourites. They certainly have recent history on their side with only one of the last seven home teams failing to win. They will be led by veterans Woods, Furyk and Mickelson and joined by four players making their debut (all ranked in the top 15 in the world).
In contrast Europe will have just won newcomer and a host of players with intimidating Ryder Cup records. They will be led by their English and the Irish stars, having an unprecedented four of the world’s top five in McIlroy, Donald, Rose and Westwood.
Their chances may hinge on whether the next tier of players can stand up to the pressure. Europe being the holders of the title only need 14 points to win, as opposed to the 14 ½ needed by team U.S.A, and maybe it will be this half point which makes the difference
The teams are:
Captain: Davis Love III
Assistant Captains: Fred Couples, Mike Hulbert, Jeff Sluman, Scott Verplank
Players (followed by their world ranking and their Ryder Cup Record, W-L-H)
-Keegan Bradley #14 (1st appearance)
-Jason Dufner #9 (1st appearance)
-Jim Furyk #23 (8-15-4)
-Dustin Johnson #13 (1-3-0)
-Zach Johnson #17 (3-3-1)
-Matt Kuchar #15 (1-1-2)
-Phil Mickelson #16 (11-17-6)
-Brandt Snedeker #10 ( 1st appearance)
-Webb Simpson #8 (1st appearance)
-Steve Stricker #12 (3-3-1)
-Bubba Watson #7 (1-3-0)
-Tiger Woods #2 (13-14-2)
Captain: Jose Maria Olazabál
Vice Captains: Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul McGinley
Players: (followed by their world ranking and their Ryder Cup Record, W-L-H)
-Nicolas Colsaerts #35 (1st appearance)
-Luke Donald #3 (8-2-1)
-Sergio Garcia #19 (14-6-4)
-Peter Hanson #25 (1-2-0)
-Martin Kaymer #32 (2-1-1)
-Paul Lawrie #28 (3-1-1)
-Graeme McDowell #18 (4-2-2)
-Rory McIlroy #1 (1-1-2)
-Francesco Molinari #31 (0-2-1)
-Ian Poulter #26 (8-3-0)
-Justin Rose #5 (3-1-0)
-Lee Westwood #4 (16-11-6)
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