Forecasting the 2014 Ryder Cup: May 21st
After the Masters, I think I look forward to the Ryder Cup more than any event in golf, and the good news is that we’re only four months away at this point from the 2014 version at Gleneagles. With that in mind, I’m going to periodically take a look at the standings and how things shape up for captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley.
The current standings are listed below, with clickable links to each player’s match play history. Just as a reminder, nine players will qualify for each the American and European teams on points, with Watson and McGinley selecting three players each to fill out the remaining spots on the roster.
|Team USA||Ryder Cup Singles Record||Ryder Cup Team Record|
- As it stands right now on an overall level, this is a very underwhelming starting nine. The absence of Tiger Woods is obvious, but if you can look at that roster and identify one player not named Zach Johnson that you would trust to make a putt right now to win the Ryder Cup, I’d be shocked.
- He’s playing great right now, but Bubba Watson as your current ace doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, especially when Ted Scott goes two down through three in Sunday singles.
- Jim Furyk looking like a lock? After watching him be a key factor in the American collapse of 2012, I thought he was done competing for his country, but he’s in right now on merit. Ask yourself this though: Do you have any confidence in a guy who takes that long to line up every putt? You shouldn’t.
- Phil’s just hanging on to a guaranteed spot at the moment, and you’d think that Watson wants nothing more than to see him make it on his own instead of being forced to use a captain’s pick on him. Watson will take him without question, especially if Tiger can’t go.
- Three rookies in Spieth, Walker and Reed are in right now, and even though he’s tailed off a little bit since winning three times, Walker really shouldn’t be a concern. Spieth is a wildcard much in the way that Dustin Johnson is, but overall, I wouldn’t be worried about his performance either. Reed is a different story. I really have no idea how much he offended people with his comments from earlier in the year, but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if he was playing well. Since those comments though, he’s been a trainwreck. People can put up with a jackass if he’s holing putts, but if he just sneaks in based on a hot start and a poor finish, I can’t imagine that the players are going to be too thrilled.
On The Bubble
- Guys on the immediate bubble: Jason Dufner, Harris English, Chris Kirk, Ryan Moore, Webb Simpson, Kevin Stadler, Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, Matt Every, Brendon Todd and Keegan Bradley.
- Other big names and their current place: Hunter Mahan (28th), Bill Haas (29th), Brandt Snedeker (34th), Billy Horschel (37th), Steve Stricker (51st) and Tiger Woods (58th).
My Captain’s Picks
This is ugly. It’s pretty obvious that the Americans are in a transition phase, and the 2016 Ryder Cup is where you’re going to see a huge switchover, as I doubt that Phil and Furyk will be around, plus Stricker will likely be in full retirement mode. The surprising thing is that a lot of the players that were supposed to be picking up the slack here, just haven’t been anywhere near good enough. Dufner, Bradley, Mahan, Haas and Snedeker have all been disappointing in 2014, which is making Watson’s job more difficult.
As it stands right now, Tiger’s just chipping and putting thanks to his back injury, so he’s out. Also, despite his disastrous 0-4 record in the 2012 event, I’d still be interested in taking Stricker if he was playing more often. He’s not though, so I’ll be passing on him at the moment. If it were me right now, I’m looking at Fowler, Bradley and Woodland as my final three with the logic being that this team desperately needs gamebreakers, and of all the guys available, those three might have the best shot at going low. Regardless, I think the Americans are in trouble against Europe, at least on paper.
|Team Europe||Ryder Cup Singles Record||Ryder Cup Team Record|
- You could argue that the current form of the players in the above table is comparable to the Americans, but for whatever reason, I would just feel so much more comfortable with this group of players if I were captain when compared to the American team. I think it has something to do with the putting of guys like Donald, Bjorn and Sergio.
- It’s funny how stock rises and falls in golf, usually at a rapid rate. Going into the 2012 event at Medinah, Kaymer was looked at as the weak link on Olazabal’s European squad, but he didn’t hurt them at all, and made the clinching putt. He then pretty much fell out of contention for the longest time until he won the Players a few weeks ago, and now I can’t see how he isn’t on this team at Gleneagles.
- Granted it’s still early, but Dubuisson’s been battling a shoulder problem and has pulled out of a few tournaments in recent weeks. Since bursting onto the scene against Jason Day at Dove Mountain, Dubuisson played at Doral and went 72-81-75-78 and missed the cut at his first Masters. I’d be willing to bet that based on his scores, the shoulder was bothering him then, but he didn’t want to pull out given that it was his first real chance to play in tournaments of that magnitude. We’ll have to keep an eye on his progress.
- I love Thomas Bjorn, but looking at the above list, he looks like the weak link on the squad at the moment. If he stays on the team, his best use has to be with a great ball striker who doesn’t putt that well. It is worth noting though that he won the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles back in 2011.
- He’s always been known as a great Ryder Cup player, but Sergio’s record really stands out when you compare it against the rest of the currently qualified players.
On The Bubble
- Guys on the bubble: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Francesco Molinari, Joost Luiten, Stephen Gallacher, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Graeme McDowell.
My Captain’s Picks
God, even the bubble players for the Europeans look way better than the American options. Quick notes on each of them:
- Jimenez: Lots of love for Jimenez and rightfully so, but his record is downright awful in match play. I’d love to see him make it on merit because I don’t think you can take him based on who’s here.
- Poulter: There’s only two ways that Poulter won’t be on this team: He’s hurt, or he’s in jail for killing someone who made fun of his pants.
- Westwood: Starting to play much better, plus his record is solid and with how he strikes the ball, pairing him with a good putter always looks like money in the bank.
- Molinari: Made the team in both 2010 and 2012, and while he’s a good ball striker like Westwood, the putter is an issue. I never feel like he’s going to convert anything when I watch him on the green.
- Luiten: Along with Donaldson, Luiten is right up there as potentially being the most underrated player in the world. Can’t see him making it over the big names though, and I wouldn’t take him either.
- Gallacher: There’s a lot of support for Gallacher based on the event being held at Gleneagles, but he hasn’t done anything noteworthy since winning in Dubai back in early February.
- Castano: The master of the #TourSauce club toss, Castano is playing mostly on the PGA Tour these days in an attempt to earn his card. Like him as a player, but not enough in this spot.
- McDowell: Overall match play record is insane, and he seems to feed off of the team atmosphere better than just about anyone. Having a prior relationship with McGinley pretty much seals it for him.
As it stands right now, I’d go with Poulter, Westwood and McDowell to round out my team. So, as of today, here’s what my Ryder Cup teams would look like at Gleneagles in September.
|Team USA||Team Europe|
|Bubba Watson||Henrik Stenson|
|Jimmy Walker||Sergio Garcia|
|Matt Kuchar||Rory McIlroy|
|Jordan Spieth||Thomas Bjorn|
|Dustin Johnson||Victor Dubuisson|
|Jim Furyk||Jamie Donaldson|
|Patrick Reed||Justin Rose|
|Phil Mickelson||Martin Kaymer|
|Zach Johnson||Luke Donald|
|Rickie Fowler||Ian Poulter|
|Gary Woodland||Lee Westwood|
|Keegan Bradley||Graeme McDowell|
Better get healthy, Tiger.