In a three-part series, Golf Writer, Keith Cook, looks at the History of the Ryder Cup, the two different eras of Ryder Cup competition, and lastly, gets specific with 2014’s players and predictions.
PART III: PLAYERS, PREDICTIONS, EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
The 2014 Ryder Cup promises to be one of the most competitive in recent history and I say, “It’s about time!” I don’t know about you, but as an American, I’m tired of hearing, “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole” at the end of The Ryder Cups and trying to accept the loss like a mature golf fan.
Thankfully, “hope springs eternal” in 2014, because it’s very apparent, the American players are sick of losing too. For the first time since 2008, there appears to be real energy to win the cup back – home soil or not. However, just wanting to win won’t get it done in 2014, because Team Europe wants to win too – and they’re pretty good.
Golf’s recent news has been filled with discussions about the selection process, the timelines for selection, and this year’s Captain’s picks. The way I see it, we can debate all of that later, because just one week from today, Team USA and Team Europe tee it up in Scotland! There is genuine excitement in the air, so let’s take a look at the 2014 Ryder Cup.
RYDER CUP FORMAT
The Ryder Cup is a biennial team versus team golf competition, conducted over three-days of play, using three different match play formats: Fourball, Foursomes, and Singles Match Play.
On each of the first two days, 4-Fourball matches and 4-Foursomes matches are played. On the third (and final) day, 12 singles matches are played using match play format.
Fourball: A golf competition format in which two sides, each consisting of two golfers, play each other using better ball format scoring (each golfer in the match plays his or her own ball throughout – four balls in play, hence the name).
- Scoring Example: Players A & B (Team 1) versus Players C & D (Team 2). On the first hole, Player A scores 5 and Player B scores 4. Team 1’s score for Hole 1 is 4 (its low ball). Player C scores 6 and Player D scores 5, Team 2’s score on the hole is 5. Therefore, Team 1 wins the first hole of the match, 4 to 5.
Foursomes: A golf competition format in which two sides, each consisting of two golfers, alternate hitting the same ball and play the ball until holed. Foursomes is also known as “alternate shot.”
- Scoring Example: Players A & B (Team 1) versus Players C & D (Team 2). Player A (of Team 1) tees off on Hole #1. Player C (of Team 2) tees off on Hole #1. Player B (of Team 1) goes to Player A’s ball and hits the team’s second shot, then Player A (Team 1) would hit the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. Players C & D (Team 2) would play in the same manner until their ball is holed. Therefore, if Team 1’s Foursome/alternate shot score was 4 and Team 2’s Foursome/alternate shot score was 5, Team 1 wins the first hole of the match, 4 to 5.
- *In Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, and Solheim Cup play, strict Foursomes rules are observed; meaning each team must decide (prior to the match beginning), which player will tee off on all odd-numbered holes (1,3,5, etc.) and which player will tee off on all even-numbered holes (2,4,6, etc.).
Singles Match Play: Singles Match Play is a golf competition format in which a player earns a point for each hole in which they have bested their opponents score; as opposed to stroke play, in which the total number of strokes is counted over one or more rounds of 18 holes. Each player’s win/loss/tie in their match, is added to the overall team total for The Ryder Cup.
FINAL: The total points available in Ryder Cup competition is 28. Tie matches, in any format, result in ½ points being awarded. If an overall tie of 14/14 is achieved after three days of play, the team currently defending The Ryder Cup, will retain the Cup until the next match.
TEAM ROSTERS & PLAYER RECORDS
- TEAM USA: Team USA’s 12-man roster is comprised of nine former Ryder Cup players and three Ryder Cup rookies. Based on Team USA’s recent Ryder Cup record of 1-4 over the last five Ryder Cups, it should come as no surprise, Team USA’s individual records pale in comparison to those of the European players.
TEAM USA PLAYER ROSTER (Current, A-Z)
Team USA (Image: www.rydercup.com / LocalGolfer)
- TEAM EUROPE: Team Europe’s 12-man roster is comprised of nine former Ryder Cup players and three Ryder Cup rookies. Team Europe’s individual records over the last five Ryder Cups are impressive, with Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, and Sergio Garcia leading the way.
TEAM EUROPE PLAYER ROSTER (Current, A-Z)
Team Europe (Image: www.rydercup.com / LocalGolfer)
2014 PREDICTIONS & PROGNOSTICATIONS
When Team USA begins their journey across the Atlantic, they do so fully realizing they will be arriving in Scotland as the underdog. Away from home soil, it won’t be an easy to take down the tough European squad, but there are a few critical factors in America’s favor.
PGA Centenary at Gleneagles – Photo: www.gleneagles.com
1) VENUE: PGA® Centenary Golf Course at Gleneagles, Scotland.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus, and opened in 1993, PGA® Centenary at Gleneagles is described as a modern classic. Nicklaus famously described PGA® Centenary as: “The finest parcel of land in the world, I have ever been given to work with.”
At 7,296 yards from the tips, PGA® Centenary will provide a difficult challenge for both Team USA and Team Europe. However, when you look at the course as giving one side an advantage or disadvantage, it’s pretty even up – with maybe a slight advantage given to the Americans due to its design.
With wide fairways, and big and undulating greens . . . other than being in Scotland, the course will play much like that of a typical “American” course with long, high tee shots and carries to specific areas of the greens required for success – conditions American golfers are much more familiar with.
Additionally, be prepared for both Team Captains to highly strategize pairings and playing time based on the physical challenge of the terrain and design of the course itself. Having played PGA® Centenary in 2013, I found the course difficult to walk and traverse. There are large distances between greens and next tees, and the hilly, up and down layout will make 36-holes in one day, not only a mental challenge, but a physical one as well.
2) TEAM CAPTAIN: With respect to European Team Captain Paul McGinley, the Americans brought out the big guns when they selected Tom Watson as the Team USA Captain for 2014. Although it’s true Team Captains never strike a golf shot; strategy, team motivation, and controlling the momentum will fall squarely on the Captain’s shoulders. Tom Watson has the edge here, and should provide Team USA with strong leadership and the motivation to get it done at Gleneagles. Don’t get me wrong, Paul McGinley will be a great leader for the Europeans as well, but just like in all sports, it’s hard to defend a championship.
3) PICKS & PREDICTIONS: It should come as no surprise, that as an American, I’m picking Team USA to win the 2014 Ryder Cup. However, it’s not a blind pick and not one without reason. The majority of Team USA is coming into the event playing strong, but most importantly, is HIGHLY MOTIVATED to win. With the 2012 “Miracle at Medinah” loss still fresh and stinging, “redemption” is the theme for Team USA in 2014.
I look forward to a very competitive Ryder Cup, but also expect the competition may get a little “chippy” at times. Even with emotions running high on both sides, I’m sure great sportsmanship will rule the day (it is only golf by the way), but the build up to this Ryder Cup is unlike those seen in the recent past – so, expect some fireworks from time to time.
In my opinion, the key to victory for the Americans will come from Team USA’s performance in the Foursomes (alternate shot) format. Not typically a strong event for Team USA, look for Captain Tom Watson to burn the midnight oil working on his pairings for this difficult, but vital Ryder Cup format. If Team USA is to win the Ryder Cup in 2014, they’ll need to do well (or at least break even) in Foursomes.
BOTTOM LINE: Tight scoring, competitive throughout, Americans pulling away in the end. TEAM USA: 15 ½ – TEAM EUROPE: 12 ½
BIO: Keith Cook is a Writer and Contributing Editor for localgolfer.com. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer
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