Who has the Ryder Cup advantage?
By Greg Moore
Medinah Country Club is the host site of the 39th Ryder Cup and will be played at the famed No. 3 course Sept. 28-30.
The course has been the venue for three U.S. Opens (1949 — Cary Middlecoff); 1975 — Lou Graham and 1990 — Hale Irwin), two PGA Championships (1999 and 2006, both won by Tiger Woods), as well as a U.S. Senior Open in 1988 (Gary Player).
Tom Bendlow originally designed No. 3, with Roger Packard making substantial changes to the course in 1986. Rees Jones reworked the course in 2006, extending the yardage to 7,561, which made it the longest golf course in major championship history at the time.
The 39th Ryder Cup marks the first time the match has been contested in the state of Illinois, as well as the first time since 1971 that the event will be played on U.S. soil outside the Eastern Time Zone. With the late September dates it will be interesting to see if weather plays any part in the final outcome.
Historical says the daytime highs generally run in the high 60s to low 70s, with the nighttime lows averaging in the mid to high 40s. Perfect football golf weather and really better than the hot, humid weather that the players endured during the summer.
Does this weather favor either team or any particular player(s)? I think not. With as much golf as these world-class players have played in their globe-trotting careers, they will be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at them (and yes, the U.S. Team’s rain suits have been thoroughly tested). I think most every player will welcome the cooler temps.
Which team should be considered the odds on favorite? Based on World Rankings, the Euros on paper might seem to have the slight edge once again but looking at the current standings, the U.S. players have narrowed that chasm. Also when you consider how the European team seems to gel a bit better in the team competition, along with their record since 1985 (the European team is 8-4-1), Jose Maria Olazabal’s team might be worth putting a few Dollars, Pounds or Euros on (where gambling is legal, of course). Olazabal’s captain’s picks only add strength to his team. Ian Poulter adds veteran experience and energy to an already seasoned and passionate squad, and Nicolas Colsaerts, although a rookie, provides the driving distance and ball striking skills that could impact a match.
But hold on just one second — Captain Love’s squad has a very strong list of players who have automatically qualified. Tiger leads the way with three wins, Bubba with a win at The Masters, Webb Simpson winning the U.S. Open, Keegan Bradley with a win at WGC Bridgestone the week before the PGA Championship (and then a strong defense at Kiawah of his PGA win from 2011) and Jason Dufner with two wins. In fact, all eight automatic qualifiers have at least one win.
What is going to be tough for DL III is making that phone call to tell a couple of players they have been left off the team. With Davis still playing against his potential team members out on the PGA Tour, he will have a very good idea as to who is ready and who is not.
I’m not sure how some guys will take being left off the U.S. Team and then teeing up with Davis at a Fall series event!
Davis’ choices run so deep down the standings, he might be going as far down the list as the 15th, 16th or 17th place for one of his picks, based on how a player is playing at the time (though it sure would make his decision more palatable, if guys in the 9th through 12th-and-13th places were to win during the FedEx Cup events). Nick Watney certainly has given Captain Love reason to consider him with his win of The Barclays at the brutal setup of Bethpage Black.
All in all, this 39th Ryder Cup is showing all signs of being a very exciting event. Will it be one where some of the old guard is left off the U.S. roster in favor of getting some of the new blood playing experience? Or will the roster be loaded with veteran’s being given one last opportunity to shine?
Only a few more weeks until we all will know. Below are the current Ryder Cup team standings as of The Barclays.
|14||Bo Van Pelt||3,152.315|
*Bold denotes players already qualified