Down, But Not Out

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Down, But Not Out

September 02, 2014

Captain Paul Azinger (2008) vs. Captain Tom Watson (2014)Yes, Paul Azinger is the only U.S. captain in the 21st century to capture a Ryder Cup (and the only one to write a book trumpeting the experience) but Tom Watson is Tom Watson, an eight-time major champion who happens to be the last U.S. captain to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil. Edge: Push

Hunter Mahan (2008) vs. Hunter Mahan (2014)For all the talk of Mahan's "quiet" 2014, he still makes more sense as a pick than he was as a Ryder Cup rookie in 2008. That year he had five top 10s and no wins, whereas this year, in addition to now having two Ryder Cups under his belt, he has six top 10s and a recent win in the Barclays to speak of. Edge: 2014

Anthony Kim (2008) vs. Jordan Spieth (2014)We expect bigger things out of Spieth than we ever got out of Kim, but it's hard to argue with Kim's record in his breakout 2008 season, when he won twice and finished sixth on the money list. Edge: 2008

Justin Leonard (2008) vs. Zach Johnson (2014)Leonard authored the signature moment of the remarkable U.S. comeback at Brookline, but by 2008, he had dropped to 23rd in the world. Johnson, meanwhile, has three wins in the past 12 months and is ranked 15th. Edge: 2014

Stewart Cink (2008) vs. Keegan Bradley (2014)The 35-year-old Cink was a more seasoned player in 2008 than Bradley is now, with five PGA Tour wins and six appearances on U.S. national teams. But at that point in his career, he still hadn't won a major, whereas Bradley has one, along with a winning record in Ryder Cup play (3-1-0) and a competitive demeanor. Edge: Push

Phil Mickelson (2008) vs. Phil Mickelson (2014)A year ago, this would have been a much fairer fight, but the 44-year-old Mickelson is coming off the least productive season of his career. In 2008, Mickelson won twice and was the clear No. 2 player in the world behind Tiger Woods. Edge: 2008

J.B. Holmes (2008) vs. Bubba Watson (2014)There's no comparison between these two bombers. Ranked No. 56 in the world, Holmes made the squad at Valhalla as a captain's pick in large part because of his Kentucky ties. He went 2-0-1 for Azinger, but no captain would take him over a two-time Masters champ. Edge: 2014

Steve Stricker (2008) vs. Matt Kuchar (2014)These two steady veterans would be a great fit on any team, as evidenced by the fact they've both served as Tiger Woods' go-to partner in international team competition. They are similar in their world ranking at the time, but only Kuchar has a U.S. Amateur win to go with a winning record in the Ryder Cup. Edge: 2014

Boo Weekley (2008) vs. Patrick Reed (2014)Weekley was one of six Ryder Cup rookies in 2008, qualifying for his first team at 35 with two PGA Tour titles under his belt and a world ranking of 35. Patrick Reed is 24, has three wins and the Ryder Cup rookie is ranked (hold the "top five" jokes) No. 27. Edge: 2014

Jim Furyk (2008) vs. Jim Furyk (2014)Furyk's 2008 and 2014 seasons were actually amazingly similar: He didn't win in either year, and was ranked inside the top 15 of both the world rankings and the money list heading into the Ryder Cup. He even qualified for the team in similar spots -- he was the fourth qualifier in 2008, and the third automatic spot in 2014. Edge: Push

Kenny Perry (2008) vs. Jimmy Walker (2014)Two more seasons that were eerily similar. Perry was ranked 17th in the world ranking and won three times in 2008, while Jimmy Walker won three times in 2014 and is currently ranked 19th in the world. There's no distinguishing between these two Ryder Cup rookies. Edge: Push

Ben Curtis (2008) vs. Rickie Fowler (2014)Curtis snuck into the 2008 team with two good finishes at that year's British Open and PGA Championship -- T-7 and T-2, respectively -- but Fowler's four top fives in majors, his two other top 10s in WGC events, and a much higher world ranking puts him on top. Edge: 2014

Chad Campbell (2008) vs. Webb Simpson (2014)Campbell only had four career PGA Tour wins by the 2008 Ryder Cup and hadn't finished better than T-18 in his last nine majors. Webb Simpson, by contrast, already has four PGA Tour wins, including a major, before the age of 30. Edge: 2014(2014 wins with a record of 7-2-4)

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