All eyes will be on Wales this week, as the 38th Ryder Cup matches will be
staged on the Twenty Ten Course at the Celtic Manor Resort. Team USA will be
led by captain Corey Pavin, while the Europeans have Colin Montgomerie at the
helm. The American team currently owns the Cup thanks to a 16 1/2 - 11 1/2 win
at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky in 2008. The European team has
dominated this event in recent years, winning five of the last seven Ryder
It took nine years, but the United States finally won back the Ryder Cup in
2008. Jim Furyk beat Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2 & 1, in singles at Valhalla to
get the United States the necessary 14 1/2 points to win the Cup. The U.S.
claimed a 16 1/2 - 11 1/2 win, which was the largest margin of victory for the
Americans since 1981. It was the first win for America in this competition
since 1999. Europe had taken three in a row, including the previous two by
record-setting nine-point margins. But that changed when Furyk lagged a birdie
putt from 25 feet inside four feet. Jimenez had 20 feet for birdie to extend
the match, but missed. The Spaniard conceded the putt, which gave the U.S.
back the Ryder Cup. For U.S. Captain Paul Azinger, it was validation for all
the work. He got the PGA of America to change the points system in order to
get the hottest players at the time of the matches. Azinger also received four
picks, a change from two, and those four went 6-3-5 for the week.
It wasn't as simple as the final score indicated in 2008. Europe was very much
in it, but it was actually Kentuckian and captain's pick, J.B. Holmes who got
the U.S. close. The Americans had 12 1/2 points and Holmes and Soren Hansen
were all-square with three to go. Holmes hit an awful drive that turned out to
be playable. He knocked a wedge to four feet and holed the birdie putt to move
1-up with two to play. At 17, Hansen went over the green with his approach.
Holmes hammered another long drive and hit his second to three feet. Hansen
could not hole his birdie chip, then Holmes kicked in the short one to get the
win and push the U.S. to the brink of victory. That was left for Furyk, the
second-most seasoned American Ryder Cupper with six appearances. His match
with Jimenez was all-square at the turn, but Furyk won 10, 11 and 13 to move
3-up. When Furyk and Jimenez halved 15 with birdies, the Americans were
guaranteed at least a halve. Jimenez took the 16th after Furyk landed in a
bunker, but the halve at 17 gave the U.S. a much-needed victory.
When Luke Donald rolled in a three-foot putt at the 17th hole in 2006 to win
his match against Chad Campbell, that gave Europe 14 1/2 points, the number
needed to win the Ryder Cup -- again. The European side captured the Ryder Cup
by a final score of 18 1/2 - 9 1/2, which matched the largest margin of
victory by its side that was established the last time around in 2004 at
Oakland Hills. All totaled, Europe pounded the Americans in singles, winning 8
1/2 - 3 1/2, the largest margin of victory in singles ever for a European
team. The European side captured all five sessions, a feat accomplished for
the first time by either team since the inception of the current format in
1979. This was another historic for victory for the Europeans. It was the
third straight win for that team, which is the first time that happened for
the European side. The European team had inspirational leadership from Darren
Clarke, who went 3-0 for the week, just one month after the death of his wife,
Heather, from cancer. The U.S. team only won six matches out of the 28 played
for the week.
There were two holes-in-one at the 2006 Ryder Cup, both coming at the 14th
hole. Paul Casey aced the 14th with a four-iron in the Saturday foursomes.
Scott Verplank aced the 14th with a three-iron in Sunday's singles. Verplank's
hole-in-one was the sixth in Ryder Cup history and first by an American.
The 2004 Ryder Cup was anti-climatic, as the Euros drubbed the United States
on the South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills,
Michigan. Captain Bernhard Langer's squad opened up an impressive 11-5
advantage after the first two days and then won 7 1/2 out of a possible 12
singles points on the final day for the win.
In 2002, Paul McGinley drained the clinching putt when he saved par from seven
feet out on the 18th hole to halve his match with Furyk. The European side
gained 7 1/2 points in 12 singles matches to cruise to the win.
The Europeans last loss prior to 2008 came in 1999 at The Country Club in
Massachusetts. That win for the United States team is most remembered for the
wild celebration set off when Justin Leonard holed a lengthy birdie putt on
the 17th green in his battle against Jose Maria Olazabal that led to the
halving of their match. That halve clinched the cup for the Americans. In a
classy move after that wild scene, the late Payne Stewart conceded his match
Lee Westwood is the most successful player in the field. He owns a 14-10-5
record in his six appearances in this event. Sergio Garcia has dominated at
the Ryder Cup with a 14-6-4 record in five appearances, but he did not make
the European squad this year and will serve as an assistant captain. Phil
Mickelson has the most points earned by an American player with a 10-14-6 mark
for 13 points. Hunter Mahan is the only player on the American team with a
winning Ryder Cup record (2-0-3).
There are plenty of rookies in the field as a total of 11 newcomers are
playing this week. The first-timers for the U.S. are Rickie Fowler, Dustin
Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson. The first-time European
players are Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Edoardo
Molinari and Francesco Molinari.
The format has the teams playing four Foursome and four Four-ball matches
Friday and Saturday and then play wraps up with 12 singles matches on Sunday.
The 2012 Ryder Cup will be staged on American soil in Illinois at Medinah
Country Club's No. 3 course in suburban Chicago.
09/27 13:03:04 ET