1 The Europeans
are simply better golfers than the Americans.
You can make the case that the European teams have been deeper than the
American teams over the past five Cups, but the most significant factor is
this: The U.S. team, during its recent losing streak, has had Tiger Woods and
Phil Mickelson. Tiger and Phil! The Euros, for talent on paper, have had no
one-two punch remotely equal. Two of the best golfers in history have played on
every American Ryder Cup team since 1997. And in those matches the U.S. is
1--4. Having Mickelson and Woods playing for 10 points between them (when they
are not paired together) should all but guarantee U.S. victories. Mickelson and
Woods should easily be able to combine for seven points. By that math the U.S.
would need only 7 1/2 points from its 10 other players to win.
2 The Europeans
are loose; the Americans are tight.
Just look at them. The Euros treat the Ryder Cup as an all-expenses-paid
holiday, with an open bar and a nightly all-you-can-eat buffet. The Americans,
of course, have the same banquet spread before them, but not the same attitude.
They see no novelty in it. After all, they play on a Tour that does not equate
golf with fun. How can they be expected to suddenly switch gears? They
3 The Europeans
have had better captains.
Winning captains always look better than losing captains. (Theory Number 2
applies to captains too.) Seve Ballesteros was way into Tom Kite's head. Sam
Torrance brought his wife, while Curtis Strange brought Mike Hulbert. Bernhard
Langer was cool, Hal Sutton overwrought. And Tom Lehman was much too serious,
while Ian Woosnam was the ultimate good-time Charlie.
4 The Presidents
Cup hurts U.S. Ryder Cup play.
For Tiger, probably for Phil, maybe for Jim Furyk more than he knows, giving up
a week of your life every year to represent your country in an essentially
meaningless exhibition can take a toll. These three signed up as kids to play a
solitary sport for personal enrichment, and for one week a year they are out of
their element. Still, most players regard the freebie week as a career
5 The courses
favor the Europeans.
The home team chooses the course and how it will be set up. Besides, the
European courses since '97—Valderrama in Spain, the Belfry in England and the K
Club in Ireland—are as American as anything you'd find in southern Illinois.
6 The Europeans
Sure, there's Monty in his Gucci loafers, but for the most part the European
players grew up working class, didn't go to college and, as pros, don't make as
much money as their American counterparts. We're not saying that their
country-club childhoods and plush U.S. collegiate careers have made the
American golfers soft, but ... actually, that's exactly what we're saying.
7 The Europeans
are more accustomed to match play.
The Europeans played lots of matches as juniors, and in days gone by continued
to do so as pros during match-play money games during practice rounds. That
hasn't been the case for 20 years.
8 The Europeans
putt better than the Americans.
Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood, Sergio García and Colin Montgomerie, among others,
all tormented American golfers in various Ryder Cups with lights-out putting,
then went back to being indifferent putters in majors and other stroke-play
tournaments. To paraphrase Bobby Jones, there is putting and there is
match-play putting with a partner, and they are not at all the same. The Euros
somehow take better advantage of the team-putting mentality.
9 The Europeans
have fielded better teams.
The won-lost column doesn't lie.
from every Ryder Cup session at GOLF.com.