View from America - The Ryder Cup Countdown is On!
Post by Golf Writer, Jared Hill
The golf world is abuzz after Rory McIlroy's dramatic nighttime victory at the US PGA major championship in Louisville.
The buzz will likely spill over into the oncoming Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the competition which pits Europe's best golfers against the best from the U.S. in a continent versus country competition. While the tournament lost a bit of its luster after Tiger Woods ruled himself out earlier this week due to his bad back, it should still score excellent ratings and fan interest simply because of McIlroy's presence.
While McIlroy is the Ryder Cup's headliner, plenty of other golfers will be critical to their teams’ success or demise.
Unlike other PGA events, which focus solely on individual play, the Ryder Cup is a team competition. Considering that Phil Mickelson lost the PGA Championship to McIlroy by merely one shot, chances are that these players – who are thrillingly close to one another in terms of skill – will create an interesting tournament for viewers.
Europe is the early favorite to win this year's Ryder Cup, predominantly because of McIlroy's hot streak. While the U.S. leads the overall Ryder Cup standings by a tally of 25-12-2, Europe has a rich history, winning the last two Ryder Cups and a whopping 7 out of the last 10.
Several U.S. players have been using Twitter to weigh in on Tom Watson being named as the captain of the U.S. team. Keegan Bradley used the social media outlet to say that he hopes he'll have the privilege to play for Tom.
Luke Donald tweeted, "Congrats to Tom Watson - now what day is #TeamUSA rocking the flat cap?" Bob Estes tweeted, "Congratulations to Tom Watson! He probably is the right man for the job in 2014 with the matches being played in Scotland."
Tom Watson will select Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and 9 others to compete at Gleneagles. Other considerations will likely include Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Keegan Bradley. Fowler, Mickelson and Jim Furyk are all strong contenders capable of leading the team to victory, since each has nearly a perfect golf game. Fowler is on a roll, while Mickelson and Furyk have also fared very well in this year's majors. While the masses tend to think that Tiger Woods' absence from the Ryder Cup could spell doom for the US team, BBC Sport Golf Correspondent Iain Carter says that the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will not miss Tiger Woods.
Part of that reason is the strength of players such as Bubba Watson. While many dislike Bubba Watson for his petulant ways, his long game might be critical to the success of the U.S. squad. He made the USPGA cut by merely two strokes and finished at a lowly 65th place. Still, Watson has won the Masters twice and just might have something to prove after his recent bout of poor publicity – when he skipped over a popular Long Drive Competition.
Jimmy Walker has also had three wins this year, and closed out the US PGA Championship with a final round of 65. Matt Kuchar is another who stepped his game up the past couple of years, and might be essential to the U.S. team's success. Keep an eye out for Jordan Spieth as well, since he finished second when he debuted at the Masters, and his short game is one of the best in the world.
Aside from McIlroy, Europe will rely on Henrik Stenson. Stenson is on the verge of winning a major and his game has been on fire lately. Further Europeans to watch out for are Victor Dubuisson, who finished in the top ten at Valhalla, and Justin Rose, who is the model of consistency. Don't sleep on Sergio Garcia, either – though he hasn't won a major yet, he will be essential to Europe's chances, and he always plays well at the Ryder Cup competition.
Ryder Cup Team Europe has tweeted about the possibility of Graeme McDowell earning a spot on the team for the competition. The team's tweets note that McDowell shot a fantastic 66 in the third round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, lending to the fact that there's a strong possibility that he'll make Paul McGinley's European Ryder Cup squad.
The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland is only a month away. I’ll be watching the Ryder Cup on DirectStarTV because of all the extra golf coverage they offer, but in the U.K. you can watch or listen to the whole tournament on BBC or Sky Sports, the latter of which is promising 330 hours of Ryder Cup coverage total. The event happens only once every 2 years, so be sure to tune in to see the world's best golfers compete in this unique match play format. Hopefully, it'll be just as dramatic as this month's US PGA Championship finish.
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