Team Europe welcome Team USA to Gleneagles, Scotland, for the 2014 Ryder Cup this September with Paul McGinley’s men aiming for sixth title from the last seven meetings.
The Europeans are just about everybody’s favourite for the title and before you go to Paddy Power and take advantage of their £20 free bet, we have selected five reasons why you should back McGinley’s side.
5. They have got the home crowd
The Ryder Cup always attracts a great crowd, regardless of which side of the Atlantic it takes place on. This year it is Europe’s turn to play host and the competition is heading to the ‘home of golf’ Glenagles.
Having the passionate Scottish crowd behind them should only help Team Europe, and will only make Team USA’s visit all the more daunting. The Ryder Cup crowd have been dubbed ‘the 13th man’ in previous tournaments and you definitely want the partisan support to be on your side.
The European’s will have the Scottish crowd cheering them through every hole while the American’s will have the home fans jeering them around the course.
History is on the side of Team Europe, recent history that is anyway.
The American’s have not won on this side of the Atlantic since 1993 and have won just one of the last six meetings since 1999. For whatever reason Team Europe have been able to overcome the American’s, even when it looked like an impossible task.
Two-year-ago Jose Maria-Olazabal’s men produced a stunning final day comeback to defeat Team USA 14 ½ to 13 ½. The American’s were in complete control heading into the singles matches, leading 10-6 and needing just 4 ½ points to secure victory.
And with seven of Team USA’s 2014 squad part of the side who were humbled in Illinois, Team Europe will head into the event this year with an added psychological advantage. Will those American stars who faltered two-years-ago hold their nerve if they take a lead into the final day this year or will they crack, again?
3. No one fancies Team USA (No one!)
All the experts, all the supporters, all the bloggers and all the press have one thing in common this year – they are all backing Team Europe.
Simply put, nobody is giving Team USA a chance. The American side has been compared to their awful 2006 Ryder Cup squad, considered by many their worst ever Ryder Cup squad.
Yes they have Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker and one of two others in decent form but the further down the squad you go, the quality quickly disappears.
Captain Tom Watson has come under intense scrutiny after leaving out in form duo Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk. The pair topped the FedEx play-offs leader board at the start of September but were overlooked in favour of Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley.
Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the four FedEx events, and Horschel finished second in Boston before lifting the third play-off, the BMW Championship in Denver, while Simpson and Bradley both failed to impress during the tournament.
Paul Azinger, the only American captain who has won the competition this century said: “I would have selected Chris, certainly. Webb’s a good player but I think it would have been easier to pick Chris than not to pick Chris. He’s won twice this year. He is hot and I like hot players.”
The fact that the pair will not be at Glenagles will surely only strengthen Team Europe’s confidence and chances, who collectively will head into the competition in great form – which leads nicely onto my next point.
2. The Team is in great form (mostly)
We all know Rory McIlroy has had a phenomenal season but the majority of his 2014 Team European team mates have also enjoyed good year’s.
Sergio Garcia finished runner-up behind The Northern Irishman in WGC invitational and 143rd Open Championship this year and also won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson, meanwhile, has collected £1.7million in prize money this season and won the Czech Masters in August to secure his Ryder Cup position and the 38-year-old has had six top-10 finishes this year,
And Henrik Stenson finished tied for third at the US PGA Championship and tied for fourth at the US Open along with top-5 finishes in Nordea Masters and BMW International Open.
Thomas Bjorn has enjoyed top-10 finishes in five European Tour events and Victor Dubuisson was tied for 9th in the 143rd Open Championship and tied for 7th in the US PGA Championship. German star Martin Kaymer won the US Open while Justin Rose has performed consistently throughout the year.
The European’s confidence is sky high and they also have another, not so secret weapon..
1. Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a simply incredible season. Winning the Open Championship, Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship. Without stating the obvious, any team with the County Down star has to fancy their chances.
The 25-year-old has took his performances to another level this year and is on course for a record breaking year for income. While the US have left their hottest players at home, Kirk and Horschel, the European’s have made no such mistake and with his experience from the 2010 and 2012 Ryder Cup’s as well the star should thrive in Scotland.
And with the four-time major champion leading the ‘Race to Dubai’ table by some distance, victory in the Ryder Cup would complete a near perfect season for the star.
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