Ryder Cup Preview: Inside The Numbers
Yesterday I posted a quick entry about the players in the Ryder Cup this week and their history at Medinah. In this post, I’ve listed each player in the event with their career Ryder Cup records, broken up by format. I’ve also included President’s Cup and WGC-Accenture Match Play records in a separate table. Note that there is another major match play event on the European Tour each year, the Volvo World Match Play Championship, but it’s almost impossible to find complete records on that event, at least the way I wanted to display them. So, I’ll talk a little about that after the below tables.
U.S. Ryder Cup Records
- The Americans take four Ryder Cup rookies into Medinah in Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker.
- Of the eight Americans who have played in the Ryder Cup previously, none have an overall winning record. The records of Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are flat out awful. Furyk’s record of 1-8-1 in fourball play is terrible, with that one win came playing with Tiger Woods in 2006 against Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie. He’s played with just about every type of player imaginable in fourball too: Tom Lehman, Mickelson, Scott Hoch, Chad Campbell, David Toms, Kenny Perry and Dustin Johnson. I’m not sure what to make of Furyk’s record to be honest.
- Lastly on Furyk: Of all the captain’s picks that Davis Love III made this year, Furyk was the one that didn’t make any sense to me. His record in the event is brutal as we know from the above table, but his play this year has been less than inspiring on the big stage, choking away wins at the U.S. Open and the Bridgestone. People were criticizing Love for the Snedeker pick, but the Furyk selection could be the one to bite him.
- If my calculations are correct, Tiger is 46-12-1 in match play singles events between the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup and WGC-Accenture. Interestingly, the list of people who have beaten him isn’t exactly a Murderer’s Row of talent: Constantino Rocca, Jeff Maggert, Darren Clarke, Peter O’Malley, Nick O’Hern (twice), Retief Goosen, Chad Campbell, Mike Weir, Tim Clark, Thomas Bjorn and Nick Watney. Good players for sure, but outside of Goosen, Watney and Weir (at the time), you wouldn’t have given any of them a chance at beating Tiger. There’s always been a thought that Tiger plays down to his competition at times, and the above list lends a little credence to that logic.
- The gamebreakers for the U.S.? Tiger and Phil are the obvious ones, but Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are the types of players that make or break a Ryder Cup. If they’re on their games, they are two of the most dangerous players in golf, but when they’re off, they are borderline unplayable. The European team has a ton of steady players, so a pair of good performances from these two could seal the deal for the U.S.
European Ryder Cup Records
As I mentioned above, the European Tour doesn’t keep great records on the Volvo. In addition to the numbers above, Nicolas Colsaerts won the Volvo this year, while Ian Poulter took it home in 2011. Runner ups in those years? Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald.
Five stray thoughts about the above data:
- Nicolas Colsaerts is the only rookie on the European side this year.
- The reputation that Sergio Garcia has as a great Ryder Cup player is founded essentially only in the team portions, with a 13-2-3 record. His singles record of 1-4 is a little worse than I thought it was. Lee Westwood on the other hand has always been thought of as a weak match play performer, and the stats bear that out as well. His overall record isn’t bad, but certainly doesn’t live up to the quality of player that he is.
- The worst kept secret in golf over the past few months was that there was no way Jose Maria Olazabal would leave Poulter off the team if he didn’t qualify. His match play record is ridiculously good, and it brings me back to something I heard on the Golf Channel on Monday night. Watching their “Top 10” program, they said Sergio and Colin Montgomerie always seemed to make shots and putts at the Ryder Cup that they didn’t make in majors. Of course, neither man has won a major to date, and I think you could Poulter in that same class. I think Poulter will win at least one major, but he just seems to be built for this event.
- There was a thought that the European side would have been better off if Martin Kaymer had slipped out of the rankings, and as it stands right now, he definitely looks like the weak link. He was T-5 in Italy a couple weeks ago, but that was his first top-10 finish since playing in Malaysia back in April. He does have a decent match play record, but in his current form, I can’t imagine that Olazabal is expecting much out of him.
- The focus of the European team will likely be on Rory McIlroy, Donald and the other well known players on the squad, but the underrated key to the team could be Peter Hanson. He’s coming off a very successful year, with seven top-10 finishes, including a win in his last start at the KLM Open in the Netherlands. He says that he’s finally focused on golf after dealing with his son’s major health scare from a few weeks ago, which made the win at the KLM even more impressive. He almost withdrew after the second round when he found out about the respiratory problem, but his wife convinced him to finish the event. Hanson’s ranked 25th in the world, and I’m pretty sure there are tons of people who wouldn’t have thought he was that high up. He’s not the best ball striker or the best iron player, but he’s a world class putter.
The Ryder Cup gets underway tomorrow morning, and I’ll be live blogging the morning session for ScoreMobile.