Ryder Cup 2014 – Preview Part One
The 2013/14 PGA tour season is now over and a big congratulation to Billy Horschel on his Fedex Cup victory at the weekend. All eyes now move to Gleneagles, Scotland, for the biennial contest that is the Ryder Cup. The format of the Ryder Cup doesn’t make a great fit for daily fantasy sports, and after enquiring, DraftKings will understandably not be offering a contest. However, I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in the contest and I thought it would be useful to do a write-up about each player in the contest, also looking ahead at what they might achieve on the PGA tour next year. I’ll start this week with team Europe, moving onto the US team next week.
The European Team
Rory McIlroy – This Irishman is possibly the most dominant figure in the game since Tiger Woods, although I’m sure a fit Tiger Woods might have something to say about that. McIlroy has performed best in the bigger events, winning two Majors, a World Golf Championship event and the BMW Championship (the flagship event of the European Tour). He’ll head to Gleneagles full of confidence and will be a key weapon in Captain Paul McGinley’s armory. Expect more of the same on the PGA Tour next year, however based on recent month he’ll save his best for the standout tournaments.
Henrik Stenson – In the early part of this year it seemed only a matter of time before Henrik Stenson would become world number one. Having won both the Fedex Cup and the Race to Dubai, Stenson was the King of both the PGA tour and the European tour. This year will have been something of a disappointment for Stenson and will want to prove a point at Gleneagles. When Stenson has appeared on the PGA tour this year he has been very consistent without quite gaining that W – expect him to be in contention on Sundays.
Victor Dubuisson – This popular Frenchman is making his Ryder Cup debut this year. Dubuisson shot to prominence after winning the Turkish Airlines at the end of last year and then made Global headlines at the WGC Matchplay event, reaching the final. This can only give him confidence heading into the Ryder Cup. His appearances on the PGA tour are few and far between – one to keep an eye on.
Jamie Donaldson – This Welshman is another player rarely seen on the PGA tour, although notably finished joint 2nd at the WGC Cadillac Championship played at Doral. This 38 year old has been something of a late bloomer, enjoying the best golf of his career and recording a win as recently as last month in the Czech Masters.
Sergio Garcia – My guess is that Sergio Garcia hates the sight of Rory McIlroy, after finishing runner up to him at both the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. This week they will be team mates and Garcia is one of the big characters in the European team – playing in his 7th Ryder Cup. Garcia is currently high on the list of the ‘Best Player Never to Win a Major’ category, but is playing the golf of his life right now. Expect some fireworks next year on the PGA Tour.
Justin Rose – Rose famously beat Phil Mickelson by winning the last two holes at Medinah in the last Ryder Cup. This lifted the Rose’s confidence and since then has won the US Open and recorded back to back victories on the PGA Tour/European Tour this summer. When Rose tees up on the PGA tour, you have to keep him in mind.
Martin Kaymer – Kaymer holed the winning putt to win the last Ryder Cup for Europe. At the time this was somewhat unexpected as he had been having something of a torrid time on the course. It is exactly the opposite this time around, as Kaymer won both the Players Championship and the US Open this year. If Kaymer is on form, he has shown that he can blow a quality field apart.
Thomas Bjorn – This Dane last appeared in the Ryder Cup in 2002, and many might have thought he wouldn’t appear again, especially since he has been a vice captain on two occasions. Bjorn won twice at the end of last year and goes to the Ryder Cup with some confidence after a top five finish on home soil in Denmark last month.
Graeme McDowell – McDowell won the pivotal match in the 2010 Ryder Cup, defeating Hunter Mahan at the Celtic Manor Resort. He went into the last Ryder Cup as US Open champion but was one of just three Europeans to lose his singles match at Medinah. McDowell has won once this year (retaining the title in France) and has an impressive eight top ten finishes in eighteen events this year. McDowell won’t let you down when he appears on the PGA tour next season.
Stephen Gallacher – Stephen Gallacher went into the final week of Ryder Cup qualifying needing a second place finish to qualify by right. After 24 holes he was outside the cut line, but stormed back and a 65 on the Sunday meant he missed out by just a solitary shot – enough for him to gain a well-deserved pick. With the Ryder Cup in Scotland, Gallacher is sure to have added support of the home crowd.
Ian Poulter – There is only one reason that Ian Poulter is in the Ryder Cup team – that being the Ryder Cup. He didn’t qualify by right and he doesn’t have any real form going into this year’s event. However there is no denying that Poulter and the Ryder Cup were made for each-other – although you can be sure that every member of Team USA will be looking to beat him. Poulter is one to avoid on the PGA tour until he shows some form.
Lee Westwood – Captain Paul McGinley had a tough choice for the last spot on the team, with Luke Donald certainly running Westwood close. Westwood has had an up and down year, an impressive seven shot victory in Malaysia in April, followed by four straight missed cuts in the summer. Westwood has some recent form, although his world ranking of 37th is a far cry from the time he was world number one. He is another player to avoid on the PGA tour right now.
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