The Americans had dominated the competition prior to the recruitment area of their opposition increasing from Great Britain and Ireland to all the nations of Europe in 1979. Europe have won the last two Ryder Cups and will hope that first time captain Paul McGinley will continue his perfect record of five Ryder Cup wins and no losses. The USA will be led by another experienced figure, the oldest Ryder Cup captain in history, Tom Watson, who at sixty-five will surpass previous record holder J.H. Taylor by three years.
Europe will be chomping at the bit to take advantage of a seeming lack of form in the American team, with many feeling Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Furyk will be the only players in good form. The team is also lacking in any top five ranked players with Europe featuring four top five players in Justin Rose, Sergio Gracia, Henrik Stenson and world number one Rory McIlroy. Europe will also feature experienced Ryder Cup veterans in Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and the reliable Ian Poulter who has won an impressive twelve out of his fifteen Ryder Cup matches at four tournaments. Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjørn return and are joined by debutants Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson and Scotlands own Stephen Gallacher. The highest ranked player in the American team will be eighth ranked Matt Kuchar, followed by ninth ranked Bubba Watson. They will be joined by the most experienced USA Ryder Cup competitor Phil Mickleson as well as the youngest player in the competition, debutant Jordan Spieth who played in the Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles four years ago. Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan make up the rest of the team.
Mickelson will likely find himself under close scrutiny, have recently caused a stir when he withdrew from the BMW Championship at the half way stage along with Ryder Cup teamate Keegan Bradley.
Very few members, reportedly only four, of the USA team have played at Gleneagles before. They will have to find their feet quickly if they are to avenge their shock final day loss known as ‘The Miracle at Medinah’ when Europe, down 10-4 after fourteen matches went on to win ten and a half out of an available fourteen points to turn the tables and win by the margin of a point. This unfamiliarity combined with growing criticism in the American press over Watson’s decision to select Webb Simpson over Chris Kirk and James Horschel may put Simpson and Watson’s other Captain’s picks off their game.
On the other hand the European press couldn’t be more behind McGinley whose heroic winning putt in 2002 will live long in the memory. With the pressure off McGinley can enjoy his time as captain and not be swayed too much by what’s in the press. Instead his ear will be tuned to the advice of Sam Torrance, the Scotwho captained McGinley to that 2002 win and will now serve as his vice captain.
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