A great summer of sport in 2014 is set to be concluded by one of the best golf tournaments in the game. Over the years, the Ryder Cup has given us huge levels of drama and tension and this year, the United States side will be out to exact revenge after an incredible three days at Medinah back in 2012.
This year, the competition heads to Scotland’s Gleneagles but how are the two teams shaping up ahead of the event, which begins on September 26th?
Qualification for Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup team takes into account points earned on the European Tour and in events across the World. With so many top golfers devoting their time to tournaments in the US, it makes sense for the captain to combine both tours in order to get the best talent available.
Back in Europe, the top four players on the money list will qualify for the side and currently, France’s Victor Dubuisson leads the way with 2,471,846.88 points. The 24 year old has been consistent all season and recently tied for second place in the Nordea Masters.
Norway’s Thomas Bjorn has enjoyed a real resurgence in the last 18 months and only needs to maintain his current form to take his place in McGinley’s squad. Bjorn is second to Dubuisson, and ahead of Henrik Stenson and Jamie Donaldson in third and fourth place respectively.
Elsewhere, the World Points list is headed by Stenson with the remaining automatic qualifying places taken by Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.
Lots can happen between now and the cut off point but those nine men would represent a solid core for Europe if they can hold on to their places.
In addition to the automatic slots, McGinley has three wild cards and will be looking at a number of options. Ian Poulter is just outside the qualifying places in both the European and World points list and the Englishman has a good record in this event. Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Italy’s Molinari brothers will also be hoping to complete a tough European line up.
The big question for the United States is whether Tiger Woods will make it into their team. At Medinah in 2012, he finally started to deliver consistent points in a Ryder Cup and Captain Tom Watson will be desperate to have him in the squad.
Woods currently stands at no 67 in the US team rankings and while he’s almost guaranteed a slot in the side, Watson would prefer him to take advantage of the remaining tournaments and to qualify on merit.
As for the current qualifying slots, Bubba Watson is way out in front and even at this relatively early stage is almost guaranteed a place in the American side. Jimmy Walker has enjoyed a consistent 2014 and sits in second place ahead of Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth complete the top nine.
Captain Watson has three extra picks and will reserve one of those for Woods while he will also hope that the vastly experienced Phil Mickelson will climb one place from tenth and become an automatic qualifier.
Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley are also below the top nine, hoping to catch the skipper’s eye in the next few weeks.
After the Miracle at Medinah, Europe are favourites on home soil to retain the Ryder Cup. Further developments are to be expected over the coming weeks with some major tournaments in prospect but at this stage, both camps are looking strong and set to deliver another thrilling three days of competition.