Looking back at past Ryder Cup point standings

duval reax 99 ryder 2

It goes without saying that the Ryder Cup is one of golf’s premier events, and there’s an argument to be made that it’s actually number one on that list. Being Canadian, I don’t have an actual rooting interest in who wins it every other year, but it’s so much fun that I can honestly say that even without my own national pride on the line, I think it’s actually the event that I look forward to more than any other.

We all know the reasons behind why it’s so good, but I think one of the underrated aspects of it is that we get to see newer faces each time out playing for their country and you really do get to see a whole different side to them that you don’t get to see on a weekly basis. There’s a passion for this event that is truly unrivalled in the game, probably best exemplified by players like Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter, who make it must watch TV. Now, while Davis Love has so far declined to introduce any new players to his roster (much to the chagrin of the entirety of Golf Twitter), Darren Clarke’s European side will feature six rookies in Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Thomas Pieters, with all but Pieters qualifying on their own via the two European points lists. If it feels like there’s a changing of the guard here, that’s probably accurate and not just for Europe. It’s very easy to see that the American side, despite players like Reed, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, is looking a little on the aged side.

One of the things that we always talk about is how players like Koepka and Fitzpatrick are going to be on these teams for the next decade like Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood have been over the last ten years, but how accurate is that, really? Certainly if we look back over the last few Ryder Cups, that would have been said of players like Hunter Mahan, Nicolas Colsaerts and Keegan Bradley but that hasn’t worked out at all, mostly because golf is a fickle game where absolutely nothing is guaranteed, even if you are one of the best players in the world.

So, what I wanted to do was take a look back at previous point standings for both sides and see how much has really changed in the last six years. The following three tables display the top 20 players on the American points list prior to the Ryder Cup, and the top 20 on the World points list for the Europeans. I decided to take this list instead of the European list because theoretically, that list should display a more accurate view of who is playing their best at that time. The players who have been bolded ended up as members of the final roster.

2010 Points List

Team USA Team Europe
Phil Mickelson Lee Westwood
Hunter Mahan Martin Kaymer
Bubba Watson Rory McIlroy
Jim Furyk Graeme McDowell
Steve Stricker Ian Poulter
Dustin Johnson Ross Fisher
Jeff Overton Francesco Molinari
Matt Kuchar Miguel Angel Jimenez
Anthony Kim Peter Hanson
Lucas Glover Edoardo Molinari
Zach Johnson Paul Casey
Tiger Woods Padraig Harrington
Bo Van Pelt Ross McGowan
Stewart Cink Simon Dyson
Ben Crane Alvaro Quiros
Ricky Barnes Luke Donald
Nick Watney Rhys Davies
Sean O’Hair Oliver Wilson
J.B. Holmes Sergio Garcia
Rickie Fowler Simon Khan
  • 8 Americans still on in 2016: Mickelson, Watson, Furyk, D. Johnson, Kuchar, Z. Johnson, Holmes and Fowler.
  • 6 Europeans still on in 2016: Westwood, Kaymer, McIlroy, McDowell, F. Molinari and Garcia. (Although Casey would make seven if the European Tour member rule wasn’t in place.)

Look at some of these names! Overton, AK, BVP, Cink, Crane, Barnes, McGowan, Dyson, Davies, Khan! If you had told me six years ago that Nick Watney and Alvaro Quiros would never play on a Ryder Cup team, I would have thought you were insane. Of the players in the table above that aren’t on either team for Hazeltine in a few weeks, how many of them can you even make a half decent argument for their inclusion on the roster? Obviously Bubba has a case, as does Furyk but that’s really about it on the American side unless you think Stricker would provide value. For the Europeans, Casey isn’t allowed to play, so he’d be out along with Poulter who’s hurt. So, that would leave McDowell, Donald and Frankie Molinari as potential options, but some of the other guys haven’t even been heard from in years.

2012 Points List

Team USA Team Europe
Tiger Woods Rory McIlroy
Bubba Watson Justin Rose
Jason Dufner Paul Lawrie
Keegan Bradley Graeme McDowell
Webb Simpson Francesco Molinari
Zach Johnson Peter Hanson
Matt Kuchar Luke Donald
Phil Mickelson Martin Kaymer
Hunter Mahan Nicolas Colsaerts
Steve Stricker Lee Westwood
Jim Furyk Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Rickie Fowler David Lynn
Brandt Snedeker Sergio Garcia
Bo Van Pelt Rafa Cabrera-Bello
Dustin Johnson Alvaro Quiros
Robert Garrigus Marcel Siem
Bill Haas Ian Poulter
Ben Curtis Thomas Bjorn
Scott Piercy Joost Luiten
Kyle Stanley Jamie Donaldson
  • 11 Americans still on in 2016: Watson, Dufner, Z. Johnson, Kuchar, Mickelson, Furyk, Fowler, Snedeker, D. Johnson, Haas and Piercy.
  • 8 Europeans still on in 2016: McIlroy, Rose, McDowell, Molinari, Kaymer, Westwood, Garcia and Cabrera-Bello.

So, three more Americans this time around and two additional Europeans, but there are still some staggering names on the list. Tiger jumps out of obvious reasons, as it was just four years ago that he was the top ranked American for this event, but two guys just below him in Bradley and Simpson aren’t particularly close to the top-20 this year. Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson (who is actually playing better recently) are nowhere near the conversation for Europe, and neither is Colsaerts. Both sides also have guys that barely get on TV these days, with BVP, Garrigus, Curtis and ball striker extraordinaire Stanley for the Americans and Siem, Quiros, Lynn and #TourSauce aficionado GFC for Europe.

2014 Points List

Team USA Team Europe
Bubba Watson Rory McIlroy
Rickie Fowler Henrik Stenson
Jim Furyk Sergio Garcia
Jimmy Walker Justin Rose
Phil Mickelson Martin Kaymer
Matt Kuchar Thomas Bjorn
Jordan Spieth Victor Dubuisson
Patrick Reed Jamie Donaldson
Zach Johnson Graeme McDowell
Jason Dufner Stephen Gallacher
Ryan Moore Luke Donald
Brendon Todd Ian Poulter
Keegan Bradley Miguel Angel Jimenez
Chris Kirk Francesco Molinari
Webb Simpson Joost Luiten
Harris English Lee Westwood
Kevin Na Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Ryan Palmer Pablo Larrazabal
Matt Every Mikko Ilonen
Brandt Snedeker Shane Lowry
  • 12 Americans still on in 2016: Watson, Fowler, Furyk, Walker, Mickelson, Kuchar, Spieth, Reed, Z. Johnson, Dufner, Moore and Snedeker.
  • 9 Europeans still on in 2016: McIlroy, Stenson, Garcia, Rose, Kaymer, McDowell, F. Molinari, Westwood and Lowry.

So, you’ll notice that there’s actually only eleven bolded names for the Americans and that’s because Hunter Mahan was selected as the twelfth player for the team despite being the 25th ranked player at the time. As I’ve talked about before, Tom Watson was awful as the American captain in 2014, but we shouldn’t overlook that he was also dealt a pretty bad hand to begin with. DJ was going through his “leave of absence/suspension”, so he wasn’t able to play and Tiger, Stricker and Dufner were all hurt and couldn’t play either which didn’t make it easy on Watson with his selections. As I’m still doing two years later, I was advocating for Kevin Na, but it’s understandable that he went where he did with his picks. As we’ve seen in recent years, “Brendon Todd, Ryder Cupper” wouldn’t have been overly appealing, and the same goes for Matt Every, and to a lesser extent, Ryan Palmer.

With the Europeans, Victor Dubuisson looked like the perfect example of a guy who was going to be around forever, but he hasn’t done much of anything in the two years since and Stephen Gallacher has two top-10 finishes in the two years since the event. Two! Miguel splits time between Europe and the Champions Tour, Jamie Donaldson is struggling, we’ve already talked about GFC and I can’t tell you the last time I thought about Mikko Ilonen.


The takeaway from this, I think, is that as much as we’d like to believe that we’re going to see the same players over and over again at the Ryder Cup, it’s not guaranteed. The top four or five players from each side are probably entrenched until their skills completely erode, but outside of that, it’s anyone’s guess as to who is going to play on these teams. Even then, Tiger missed the last Ryder Cup and won’t be playing (I think) in 2016. Stenson, Fowler, Sergio and Rose have all gone through the wilderness and come out of it, but they’ve all missed time in the last three Cups. Donald, Kaymer and Westwood have all been ranked number one in the world in this time period, and have relied on captain’s picks or have been left off of rosters because of poor play.

These three events didn’t happen that long ago, but so, so much has changed. Just something to keep in mind as we head towards Hazeltine in a few weeks.

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