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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Golf: U.S. now chasing Europe in Ryder Cup - by Ron Kroichick

The U.S. won 12 times and tied once from 1959 through '83. Europe is 8-4-1 since then, including victories in four of the past five Ryder Cups. This year's European team features four of the top five players in the world ranking (McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose).

Granted, the American team includes 11 of the top 17 players in this week's ranking. The wider point: The U.S. didn't invent golf, it's hardly the only country to play at a high level and, based on recent history, it really shouldn't be favored in the matches at Medinah, outside Chicago (starting Friday)

In trying to identify reasons for the U.S. struggles, it's logical to start with Woods. He has played on only one triumphant Ryder Cup team in his career, in 1999 - he was recovering from knee surgery when the Americans won in 2008 - and his overall record is a pedestrian 13-14-2.

The most compelling reason to pick Europe this week: Some of Woods' teammates bring even worse track records. Most notably, Phil Mickelson (11-17-6) and Jim Furyk (8-15-4) need to reverse their Ryder Cup history if captain Davis Love III wants to walk away a winner.  Love made a salient point in his news conference Wednesday, suggesting Europe's surge the past 30 years really saved this event. It barely registered in the consciousness of U.S. sports fans in the '60s and '70s, in part because their team always won.

Then, thanks mostly to the abundant skill and abiding passion of Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, the Europeans started winning - and creating good theater every two years.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/sports/kroichick/article/U-S-now-chasing-Europe-in-Ryder-Cup-3897610.php#ixzz27esiVH3D

Read more: U.S. now chasing Europe in Ryder Cup - SFGate