August 31, 2010

European Ryder Cup Team Finalised: In addition to the 9 qualifiers, European captain Colin Montgomerie selected Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Edoardo Molinari, who finished birdie-birdie-birdie to win by a shot at Gleneagles on Sunday, and whose brother Francesco is one of the 9 automatic selections. How do you like the look of the team? [more inside, including some incredibly spurious use of numbers]

posted by JJ to golf at 06:19 PM - 6 comments

So I was mucking about with some data:

The team is 50% rookie.
The other 6 have racked up 19 Ryder Cups between them.
Therefore, the team is averaging 1.58 Ryder Cups per head.
The team boasts 9 singles wins, 13 foursomes wins and 13 fourball wins.
No one on the team has ever halved a Ryder Cup singles match.
The team has halved 9 foursomes matches and 4 fourball matches.
The team has lost 10 singles, 10 foursomes and 13 fourballs.
Of a possible 81 points, the team has won 41.5 points (51%).
Luke Donald has won 79% of the points he's played for (and has never failed to win a foursomes match).
Ian Poulter has won 71% of the points he's played for (and has never halved any match).
Graeme McDowell has won 63% of the points he's played for (but has only played 4 matches in one Ryder Cup).
Lee Westwood has won 57% of the (29) points he's played for.
Padraig Harrington has won 40% of the points he's played for (but since 2004 has won 0%).
Miguel-Angel Jimenez has won 27% of the points he's played for (and has never won a singles in 3 attempts).
There are 3 top ten players in the team (Westwood, McIlroy and Kaymer).
The lowest ranked player is Peter Hanson (40th in the world).
The average ranking is 18.75.
The team holds 50% of the majors (McDowell US Open, Kaymer USPGA) and has 5 majors in total (Harrington holds the other three).

All of which reveals next to nothing.
The key factor in this whole Ryder Cup is in Pavin's hands. If he's a stronger and wiser man than I think he is, he'll leave Woods out and it will be a very exciting and tight contest that Europe will just shade. If he does what I expect he'll do and picks Woods, Europe will win at a canter.

Regarding Monty's picks: I'm confused by them. Yes Harrington has majors, but he hasn't won a Ryder Cup point of any description for the last two matches, is hardly what one might describe as a team player and is one of the few European players I've never heard waxing lyrical about the contest. Donald also confused me as a pick when I heard it, but now that I've looked at his numbers, I'm willing to let Monty have that one (although it should be noted that Garcia played a fairly vital role in helping him to a lot of his pairs wins). The only pick I was rock solidly behind Monty for was Edoardo Molinari - he and his brother won the World Cup together, have played together twice in the last group on Sunday this year (Edoardo won both times, at Loch Lomond and Gleneagles), and are that most valuable Ryder Cup commodity: a proven pairing that works.

In that respect I was surprised Rose didn't get a pick. Last time, he seemed to solve the "Who the hell do you play with Poulter?" problem. I was also surprised Casey was left out. He has had a decent if not wonderful year, missed a lot of potential points with injury last year, and (I would think) he strikes more fear into the hearts of the opposition than Luke Donald.

How do you like the team? And what's your score prediction? (I'm going with: Woods gets a pick but only plays fourball and singles, probably winning the latter, but Europe still win 17-11).

posted by JJ at 06:51 PM on August 31

They look European. I guess they look OK.

posted by irunfromclones at 06:52 PM on August 31

I'm just hoping Monty's super injunction holds fast and we never have to see what he looks like in a pair of assless chaps. Allegedly.

posted by JJ at 06:56 PM on August 31

The team boasts 9 singles wins, 13 foursomes wins and 13 fourball wins.

The standard pattern, at least in the "Europe usually wins" era, is to stick the knife in on the opening days, particularly the foursomes. There's not much pairing form, but you can imagine a few combinations that , and there's always a couple of pairs on either side that turn out stronger than their form and ranking on the weekend. (Mark Reason predicts that the Norn Irons will play together, Fisher will partner Poulter, and Donald goes out with Harrington.)

Harrington over Casey is the one weird pick in terms of form, but that's been well discussed in terms of the European Tour's desire to protect itself from transatlantic drift.

Something you didn't mention, JJ: Sergio Garcia added to the vice-captains. Lucky charm or albatross? Too many voices in the locker room? I really don't know.

ETA: A weird line from the USA Today writeup:

Woods is rounding into form and hasn't lost in singles since 1997.
And? If he has a repeat of 2004 in the pairs (played 4, lost 3, won 1) then singles form doesn't really matter.

posted by etagloh at 07:20 PM on August 31

Okay we know this for the U.S.

1. Phil Mickelson, 6,095.063 2. Hunter Mahan, 4,095.620 3. Bubba Watson, 3,894.319 4. Jim Furyk, 3,763.642 5. Steve Stricker, 3,697.976 6. Dustin Johnson, 3,573.804 7. Jeff Overton, 3,533.148 8. Matt Kuchar, 3,415.853

The key factor in this whole Ryder Cup is in Pavin's hands. If he's a stronger and wiser man than I think he is, he'll leave Woods out and it will be a very exciting and tight contest that Europe will just shade. If he does what I expect he'll do and picks Woods, Europe will win at a canter.

What if it were in JJ's hands? Which four would you choose?

9. Anthony Kim, 3,274.684 10. Lucas Glover, 3,052.874 11. Zach Johnson, 3,051.897 12. Tiger Woods, 2,902.580 13. Bo Van Pelt, 2,662.234 14. Stewart Cink, 2,644.833 15. Ben Crane, 2,629.796 16. Ricky Barnes, 2,610.171 17. Nick Watney, 2,557.441 18. Sean O'Hair, 2,417.574 19. J.B. Holmes, 2,390.710 20. Rickie Fowler, 2,353.320

I'm going with Kim, Glover, Woods and Cink.

posted by tselson at 12:35 AM on September 01

I'd go with Kim, Barnes, Fowler and Cink. That said, looking at that list of the top 20 and in spite of what I said before, I'd be tempted to include Woods (at the expense of Barnes probably), not least because no matter how badly he's been playing, as a European, you'd still fancy your chances of beating anyone else more! Although, on the flip side of that, you'd definitely be more up for playing Woods. I know for a fact that Rory and Graeme (and probably most of the others) would love to play him in the singles.

I'll put together the same set of numbers when the US team is finalised and we can see how the teams stack up on paper.

In terms of pairings for the Euopeans: I think the Ulster pair and the Azuri are ready-made, but having said that, McDowell played with Poulter (successfully) last time and is also good mates with Ross Fisher (and is managed by the same management company), so they might work well together. I also suspect that Rory could play with anyone and might be better off in his first Ryder Cup playing with someone like Westwood (his friend and stable mate) on the first day at least.

I expect Hanson might only play singles and that Jimenez will only play 3 matches. Kaymer and Harrington or Kaymer and Fisher also strike me as "obvious" pairings (all three of them are prodigiously long).

Garcia coming along seems an odd decision too. I definitely think we're looking at too many voices in the locker room, and I know that he definitely winds up certain other (playing and non-playing) members of the team. Maybe he'll be there to translate for the Mechanic.

posted by JJ at 03:33 AM on September 01

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