10 reasons Europeans will win
By Bill Huffman
Here are 10 reasons why Europe’s reclamation of the Ryder Cup this weekend at the Celtic Manor in Wales is just a shout away.
10. A hairy issue
U.S. rookie Rickie Fowler has a lot of hair, but Europe’s outstanding rookie, Rory McIlroy, has locks that are equally as long and much thicker. Not that Rory’s mop-top will necessarily be the key against little Rickie’s “dutch boy’’ look, mind you. No, the fact that McIlroy is ranked No. 9 in the world compared to Fowler’s rating of No. 33 has a lot more to do with it. Plus, in the hair department, America’s got five guys going bald if you count Tiger Woods, while Europe has none. (Does this have the potential to be a medical study: Why Europeans have more hair?)
9. Brothers in arms
Europe’s “Italian stallions’’ look like the real deal. Brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, who both live in the town of Turin and love to play, hmm, soccer, could turn out to be world-beaters this weekend. Hey, Edoardo already has guaranteed that the Molinaris “will not lose.’’ And there is precedent, as Team Molinari prevailed a year ago in the World Cup – a first for a two-man team from Italy. Genes aside, here’s why the Molinaris will be so tough – Francesco, 27, has the game; Edoardo, 29, has the nerve.
8. Furyk flat-lines
Ever wonder why Tour players take the following week off after they win a tournament? Yeah, there’s nothing left in the tank. That’s why Jim Furyk, who never has played all that well in the Ryder Cup (8-13-3) is about to come out flat in the Welsh Games. The former Arizona All-American just completed the biggest moment in his career by winning the TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup, a feat that certainly will earn him player of the year honors. But the needle, no doubt, will be on “empty’’ this weekend.
7. More flat-liners
Besides Furyk, American “go-to guys’’ Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker also seemed to come up empty last weekend, like they had given everything they’ve got to get that far and had simply nothing left, especially Johnson, who had two gut-wrenching near-misses in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Both Kurchar (T25 out of 30 players) and Johnson (T22) looked like shadows of themselves en route to poor finishes in the FedEx Cup along with the usually dependable Stricker (T25). Add Yankee rookies Jeff Overton (T29) and Bubba Watson (T17) to that “Flat-liners II’’ and it doesn’t bode well for the U.S. sluggers.
6. Exit, stage left
He’s still No. 2 in the world, but Phil Mickelson hasn’t sniffed it since the Masters back in April. Plus, he’s not all that adept (10-14-6) at Ryder Cup pressure any way. Now if this was the President’s Cup where he went 4-1-0 a year ago that would be something. But, alas, it’s not. And to add to Lefty’s woes, he doesn’t play particularly well when the fans are hostile, something Mr. Popular is unfamiliar with having played the majority of his golf in the comfy confines of the PGA Tour. But even more to the point: Phil’s had one top-10 (T8 BMW Championship) since the U.S. Open in June.
5. Tiger’s year to forget
If the Euro fans will be giving both barrels to Mickelson, just think of the heavy artillery they’ll be using on Woods and his tarnished image? Or how about this question that one British tabloid reporter laid on Woods during Monday’s opening press conference: “You don’t win majors any more, you don’t win regular tournaments any more . . . so where is the Ryder Cup on your agenda now that you’re just an ordinary golfer?’’ To which Woods smiled and replied: “I hope you’re having a good week.’’ Tiger will need lots more of that before the week is over.
4. Pavin and “The Captain-ness’’
About the only thing we really know — absolutely, 100 percent, for sure — is that Lisa Pavin, the wife of U.S. captain Corey Pavin, will be playing a larger role in the Ryder Cup than usual starting with her scantily clad photo on the cover of Avid Golfer magazine. Dubbing herself “the Captain-ness,’’ Lisa Pavin has personally selected some very, well, feminine-looking outfits for the Yanks. Add in Pavin’s “little guy’’ complex to the egomaniac equation, and the U.S. team really might be deserving of its self-proclaimed role as underdogs.
3. Monty has his moment
Say this about European captain Colin Montgomerie, occasionally he puts his money where his mouth is, and this will be one of those rare occasions. Dubbed by the media “Captain Rabbit Ears’’ for his fragile ego, if there is one arena where “the best player never to have won a major’’ has excelled in, it’s the Ryder Cup. In fact, behind Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer, nobody has won more points in these Patriot Games than Monty’s 23 ½, which included a record of 6-0-2 in singles. But here is the reason he’ll lead the Euros to yet another victory. “(Monty) always revels as the man out front,’’ said Padraig Harrington in reference to Colin’s key role in four of the Euros’ past wins.
2. Better “losers’’
The tangible that really opens eyes when comparing Team Red-White-and-Blue to Team just-Blue is how many losing records there are among the Ryder Cup veterans on both teams. For the U.S. that includes, most notably, Woods (10-13-2), Mickelson (10-14-6), Furyk (8-13-3) and Stewart Cink (4-7-4) vs. Europe’s Harrington (7-11-3) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (2-7-3). It becomes even more obvious on a team scale: U.S. (35-51-20, .425) vs. Europe (35-32-13, .519). And for those really good at math, yes, that’s a winning record for the Euro vets.
1. No place like home
Numbers don’t lie, and in the past 25 years Europe’s record in the Ryder Cup is a very impressive (some might say, “dominating”), 7-4-1 with four of those wins and the tie coming on its own soil. And to think, it could have been even more overwhelming had the U.S. not pulled off “The Miracle at the Country Club’’ in 1999. Why is this so? There are two factors why the U.S. seemingly can’t win across the pond: The Euros treat the Ryder Cup like it’s a major championship; they want it more. The Europeans’ paranoid perception that the U.S. thinks they are better players; a snub that inspires the Euro guys to no end.
Final result: Europe, 15-13