Ultimate Ryder Cup
Thirty seven years ago, the Ryder Cup was in trouble of falling into a pit of irrelevancy. Team USA had won all but three of the biennial events against Great Britain since the inception back in 1927, and most of them by a wide margin. The addition of Irish players in 1953 helped a little bit but for the most part, the Ryder Cup was mostly an event for the Americans to prove their dominance over Britain.
Noticing that this was becoming a bigger problem, Jack Nicklaus suggested that the format be tweaked to allow all of Europe into the competition, and in 1979, that’s exactly what happened, but there was only one problem: the Americans still dominated, winning 17-11 at the Greenbrier and 18.5-9.5 two years later on European soil at Walton Heath. In 1983 though, Europe made it close, losing only by one point before taking the 1985 event at the Belfry. Since then, Europe has dominated the event, winning nine of thirteen and not losing at home since 1993.
There have been a lot of great players on both sides since the event took this form 35 years ago, so I decided to put them together into one team for both Europe and the United States. Some tough decisions were made and players were definitely left off that were worthy, such as Ray Floyd and Sam Torrance, but here are my picks for the Ultimate Ryder Cup.
Feel free to leave your selections in the comments.
||Why He Made It
||Seve Ballesteros was European golf for the better part of two decades, and that was most apparent when he played in the Ryder Cup. He was the heart and soul of the European entries in the event whether he was a player or captain, and his overall record of 20-12-5 is one of the best you’ll find for either side.
||Luke Donald won’t be making an appearance this year at Gleneagles, but his record speaks for itself and while he’s not a long hitter, his short game and putting more than make up for it.
||Faldo’s record doesn’t jump off the page at you, but at 11 appearances, he’s played in more Ryder Cups than anyone and he’s obviously a massive threat with his resume.
||Sergio’s record in Ryder Cup singles is just 2-4, but when he’s paired up in the team format, he’s a ridiculous 14-4-4. Much like Ballesteros, he seems to love this event and it’s usually where he see him at his best.
||At the 1991 Ryder Cup, European captain Bernard Gallacher tried to figure out where American captain Dave Stockton was going to put Lanny Wadkins in Sunday singles. Wadkins was a notoriously fast player and Gallacher wanted to match him up with Langer, who on his fastest day would make Jim Furyk look like Usain Bolt. That’s a useful thing to have on a team, plus Langer’s record is pretty impressive too.
||McDowell is one of the more recent players on this list, and while his Ryder Cup record isn’t fantastic, his overall match play history makes him a perfect fit on this team. Stylistically, the way he plays fits with just about anyone too and being as likeable as he is would be a big plus for the team atmosphere.
||He’s the most talented player we’ve seen since Tiger Woods, and even better for Europe is that he actually cares about this event now compared to when he initially called it an “exhibition” ahead of the 2010 version at Celtic Manor.
||Before Ian Poulter was known as Europe’s Ryder Cup ace, Colin Montgomerie was the thorn in the American side, albeit with a little less intensity. Won his matches at a 66% clip and sits behind only Faldo and Langer for most ever points from a European player.
|Jose Maria Olazabal
||Most of Olazabal’s success came as a partner with Ballesteros where the pair picked up 12 of a possible 15 points in their time as a tandem. His singles record at 2-4-1 is underwhelming, but it’s impossible to ignore that run with Ballesteros.
||Poulter is very likely a crazy person, and while you can argue that he’s underachieved as a player in regular events, the Ryder Cup is a completely different beast. He’s the emotional sparkplug for Europe much in the way that Ballesteros was in the 80’s and 90’s.
||The former world number one has played on every Ryder Cup team since 1997 thanks to his incredible ball striking. Most of his success has come in the team format where he can rely on someone else to get up and down.
||The diminutive Woosnam played on eight Ryder Cup teams from 1983 to 1997, ranking ninth in career points earned for Europe.
||Why He Made It
||You’re probably looking at his record and asking me why I decided to take Couples and the reason is pretty simple: There are very few American players with a large sample size since 1979 with a great record and Couples, if he got hot, there are few players I’d rather have on my side.
||Use the same logic above and apply it to Duval, who has unfortunately become a bit of a punchline in recent years, but if you take him at the top of his game, there’s no question that you’d want Duval out there. Remember, he’s one of a few players to ever go head to head with Tiger in his prime and take him down.
||It’s tough to ignore a record like the one Irwin has put together, and the three U.S. Open wins don’t hurt either.
||Mickelson is the only member of this team that will be playing at Gleneagles and while it’s true that his record in the Ryder Cup isn’t great, I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually leave him off a team like this.
||Miller only played in one Ryder Cup after 1979, but if we’re taking players at their peak, you can’t ignore Miller, who at points in his career looked like the best player on the planet. The putter would be a concern, but with how good his iron play was, that probably wouldn’t be a huge factor.
||Much like Irwin, it’s really difficult to ignore Nelson’s record in the event and again, the three major wins (2 PGA Championships and 1 U.S. Open) helps his case.
||Do I really need to explain this?
||Pavin isn’t the biggest name on this list, but he brings a good record and an intensity that is tough to match. Also, how can you turn down that moustache?
||Great record, incredible talent and someone who would talk your ear off to the point of frustration in a match? Sign me up.
||Wadkins places third all-time in American Ryder Cup points behind only Billy Casper and Arnold Palmer, who both played in the pre-Europe era.
||Watson only played in four Ryder Cups, which seems like a low number to me but he still put together a nice record. Throw in the incredible level of talent and his not so quiet intensity, and you have the perfect player for the Ryder Cup.
||Sure, the record isn’t there, but how can you leave him off? He makes it on ability alone and would be a threat to win any match against any player.
Category: Golf, Sports
Tags: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Corey Pavin, David Duval, European Tour, Fred Couples, Golf, Graeme McDowell, Hale Irwin, Ian Poulter, Ian Woosnam, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Jose Maria Olazabal, Lanny Wadkins, Larry Nelson, Lee Trevino, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Nick Faldo, PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia, Seve Ballesteros, Sports, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson