What Are the Odds? A New View of the Ryder Cup Teams

It is never a good idea to try to second guess what will happen at any sporting or political event.

Odds-makers the world over have their ways to codify the likely outcome of almost anything.  (At last report- London bookmakers were giving 8-1 odds that the Republican party would change VP candidates!)  And every golf writer and his brother has an opinion about what will happen in 2 weeks at the Ryder Cup.

Before adding my 2 cents I should tell you that I do not root for one side or the other.  I cheer for the event.  I want to see great golf played fearlessly.  I hope for good sportsmanship from the gallery and I pine for all of the aggression to be expressed through the game and not the post round reporter’s microphone.  For all that, I do wonder about an interesting inversion in the teams this time.

Usually it is the US side that is deep with rock star talent.  With Tiger on the bench and Phil not on a streak, for the first time, the US side looks more like Europe.  It is a mix of experienced stalwarts who are veterans of the pressure experienced at the Ryder Cup and star struck rookies who in recent weeks burned up the course during the FedEx Cup finals.  This is the kind of team that is more likely to meld than one where the top tier is miles ahead of the pack.  I do not for a moment think that we will not miss Tiger and what he can do on a golf course.  It is more that in the vacuum created, there is more room for a team to form.

And in an odd turn of events, the European team looks more like a typical US squad.  Padraig Harrington is not Tiger Woods, but don’t tell him that.  The Irishman is in top form and has won 3 of the last 6 majors.  There is deep experience on Team Europe, but also the tremendous pressure of protecting a decade of cup wins and an expectation at home that they will be invincible.

So, I am not making predictions.  But I think that the viewing will be fascinating.  I am setting aside as much time as I can to watch (sad to say I am not going to be at Valhalla).  For those who are interested to see how teams gel or fall apart- this is a great place to see it happen moment by moment.