2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Preview
With Captain Davis Love III making his final four selections Tuesday, the United States’ Ryder Cup team is complete. This year’s group looks stronger than ever with an intriguing mix of experience, fan favorites, and Ryder Cup newbies. Playing the defending champions on home soil, Love and his team will hope that they have what it takes to win a competition that has seen Europe win three of the last four. Starting with the captain, I’ll begin my breakdown of the U.S. squad.
Davis Love III (captain)
Experience: This competition will mark Love’s seventh career Ryder Cup appearance. Love was a member of the winning U.S. teams in 1993 and 1999. In other words, this will by no means be Love’s first rodeo. Learning under Corey Pavin in 2010 means that he understands the transition from player to non-playing captain. His resume suggests a level of experience and savvy that breeds confidence surrounding his captaincy and team selections.
What to watch for: Love’s consistency and familiarity with international competition will be important factors as he leads the U.S. in this event. Love knows what it takes to win a Ryder Cup, and will lead a U.S. team that looks very competitive on paper.
Jim Furyk (captain’s selection)
Experience: In Furyk, Love has a pillar of consistency and experiednce. A member of the U.S. teams that triumphed in 1999 and 2008, Furyk is one of the winningest members of this roster.
What to watch for: Furky’s selection was expected as Love sought to add veterans to this team. Furyk will act as a counterbalance for some of his more inexperienced teammates. While consistency is anticipated, whether or not Furyk can find the championship golf that has eluded him this season has yet to be determined.
Dustin Johnson (captain’s selection)
Experience: Johnson was a member of the 2010 Ryder Cup team that lost in Wales. Being one of Love’s captain’s picks, his current hot streak was likely what set him apart from other candidates.
What to watch for: Johnson is an athletic, long hitter that will be well suited to the lengthy holes that Medinha presents. If Johnson can maintain his driving accuracy throughout the event, expect him to make an impact as a member of an alternate shot or best ball foursome.
Experience: Woods will be playing in his 6th Ryder Cup. While he is a veteran for the United States, his success is limited to a single victory with the 1999 team.
What to watch for: No one questions Tiger’s ability. The uncertainties lie in what capacity he will be used in this years competition. Many suspect Tiger to pair with Steve Stricker given their compatibility. Woods will likely feature in the singles matches scheduled for the final session, with alternate or best ball foursome inclusion also likely.
Steve Stricker (captain’s selection)
Experience: Stricker was a member of the 2008 and the 2010 Ryder Cup teams. He comes into the tournament with a string of solid performances and presents himself as a player that pairs strongly with Tiger Woods.
What to watch for: Stricker’s putting game is one of the most important assets that he brings to this year’s team. Stricker’s inclusion comes as no surprise, as he has been a solid performer in previous competitions. Look for Stricker to hit the ground running at Medinah.
Experience: Watson was second on the Ryder Cup points list behind Woods.Watson also boasts experience with this competition as he was a member of the 2010 roster.
What to watch for: Watson comes into the Ryder Cup in the midst of the best season of his career. Following his Masters victory, Watson won three out of the four events that he played in August. A player that has been known for moments of inconsistency, U.S. fans hope that Watson can add another stellar performance to his big year.
Experience: Johnson is a three time Ryder Cup veteran. He will be looking for his first winning experience with the Ryder Cup in 2012.
What to watch for: Johnson currently leads the PGA Tour in putts per hole (1.722). The Ryder Cup is a tournament that hinges on good putting. With missed putts dooming previous Ryder Cup teams, Johnson’s putting quality is a vital asset for the U.S.
Experience: Matt Kuchar is a returning member of the 2010 Ryder Cup team.
What to watch for: Kuchar carded solid performances in the 2010 competition. Finding consistency may be key as he has played sporadically as of late.
Experience: This will be Mickelson’s ninth Ryder Cup appearance. He was also a key member of winning U.S. teams in 1999 and 2008. This resume makes Mickelson one of the most experienced players on this year’s roster.
What to watch for: Mickelson comes into the month of September playing some of his best golf of the year. With the BMW championship under way, Mickelson looks to post back to back top ten finishes. A veteran that has had previous success in this competition, Love will look to the lefty to help lead this U.S. team.
Experience: Simpson is another Ryder Cup rookie. Having been a member on the winning 2011 President’s cup team, he has some familiarity with international team competition.
What to watch for: Simpson has had a very emotional year that included the birth of his first child and his first major win in the U.S. Open. There is no guarantee that Simpson will play to his potential, but if he does, expect big things.
Brandt Snedeker (captains selection)
Experience: Snedeker is a Ryder cup rookie. His selection has both pros and cons when Love’s selections are analyzed. With this pick, Love chose to give a newcomer with a current run of good play a shot.
What to watch for: In a tournament that is full of emotion and pressure, it is difficult to judge how a rookie will acclimate. Snedeker is known for his putting prowess, but has had bouts of inconsistency with his ball striking. If recent performances are any indicator (top ten finishes at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship), Snedeker may be able to continue his hot streak.
Experience: Dufner is another player without a previous Ryder Cup selection. His inclusion was also controversial with proven players such as Hunter Mahan and Ricky Fowler being left out of the squad in favor of hot-handed rookies.
What to watch for: Dufner is a pure ball striker with a nose for green and a solid putting game. His accuracy from range would be well-suited to the alternate shot format.
Love’s selections top off what may be the deepest U.S. Ryder Cup team of this decade. Led by a core of veteran players and invigorated with new talent, this team will look to challenge Europe’s recent dominance in this famed competition.
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