U.S. needs experienced players to step up
If history is a guide, the U.S. Ryder Cup team might be in for a long three days at Celtic Manor in Wales in two weeks.
Of the seven U.S. team members with Ryder Cup experience, only one, Hunter Mahan (2-0-3), has a winning record. Meanwhile, four of the six European team members with Ryder Cup experience (Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood) have winning records.
The three U.S. players who one might think would be exceptionally strong match play competitors are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.
Woods, who won USGA amateur championships at match play in six consecutive years (three straight U.S. Junior Amateurs followed by three straight U.S. Amateurs), has a 10-13-2 Ryder Cup record.
Match play ought to work to Mickelson's advantage, given his exceptional talent and occasional lapses, the latter only costing him a single hole rather than an entire tournament. Yet his record in seven Ryder Cups is 10-14-6.
Furyk, renowned for his competitiveness, is 8-13-2 in six Ryder Cups.
The experienced U.S. Ryder Cup players collectively are 35-51-20, which doesn't augur well and no doubt is a contributing factor to betting odds that favor the Europeans -- 8/13 favorites at Ladbrokes.
-- John Strege