2012 Ryder Cup Special Part Two: Team Europe

In this second article of a special feature we are going to examine those golfers set to represent Team Europe in the 2012 Ryder Cup to be held at the beautiful Medinah Golf Club, Illinois, starting on 28th September 2012.

Featured below are the dozen golfers who will carry the hopes of Europe and team captain Jose-Maria Olazabal in the eagerly awaited clash with the United States.

Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium)  (Age 29)

(Ryder Cup Apps 0, Ryder Cup Record W0-L0-H0, World Ranking 35, Major Titles 0)

Capped a remarkable comeback from being 1305th in the world rankings 3 years ago and without a tour card to win the China Open in 2011 and then the Volvo World Match Play in May 2012.  He’ll still be the lowest ranked player on show at Medinah and the only member of the European team not to play in the competition, yet his length from the tee could be vital over the huge Medinah course, especially in fourballs.

Luke Donald (England)  (Age 34)

(Ryder Cup Apps 3,  Ryder Cup Record W8-L2-H1, World Ranking 3, Major Titles 0)

Donald will likely form one of the key players for Olazabal this time around as not only does he have wide experience of playing in American conditions, Donald’s even temper and consistent game make him this teams version of the wily old Ryder Cup campaigner, Colin Montgomerie. Expect Donald to be used often, particularly in the foursomes where accuracy is vital, or in the fourballs alongside Sergio Garcia.

Sergio Garcia (Spain)  (Age 32)

(Ryder Cup Apps 5, Ryder Cup Record W14-L6-H4, World Ranking 18, Major Titles 0)

It seemed unlikely the fighting spirit of Sergio Garcia would grace this Ryder Cup, a lack of form saw him miss out in 2010, but he has come back into form this year and a win on the US Tour cemented his place as an automatic pick. The Matchplay format of the competition seems to bring out the best in the Spaniard who’s grit and determination have inspired many great European performances. Formed a very strong partnership with Luke Donald in 2008.

Peter Hanson  (Sweden) (Age 34)

(Ryder Cup Apps 1, Ryder Cup Record W1 L2 H0, World Ranking 23, Major Titles 0)

This will be Peter Hanson’s second Ryder Cup after he secured a point in the last event at Celtic Manor. Hanson has enjoyed a superb season predominantly on the US Tour with superb performances in the Masters and USPGA Championship as well as finishing in the top 10 in five World Championship of Golf events.  The American’s may view him as a potential weakspot on the European team but Hanson has the game to better anybody on the day.

Martin Kaymer (Germany) (Age 27)

(Ryder Cup Apps 1, Ryder Cup Record W2 L1 H1, World Ranking 32, Major Titles 1)

The former World Number 1 has struggled for form this season and barely hung onto his automatic place in the side in the final weeks of the season after not finishing in the top 10 in a tournament since April. That said, the German golfer has a doubty resolve and is a true fighter and he has a positive record in the Ryder Cup and his consistency from tee to green may be needed on a tight and long Medinah course.

Martin-Kaymer-US Open 2011

Paul Lawrie (Scotland) (Age 34)

(Ryder Cup Apps 1, Ryder Cup Record W3 L1 H1, World Ranking 29, Major Titles 1)

Few players can have waited as long as Scotsman Paul Lawrie for a second appearance in the Ryder Cup. In 1999, alongside Colin Montgomerie, he was a stalwart at Brookline having just won the Open Championship, but in the years that followed Lawrie’s form deserted him.  Last season saw him win on tour for the first time in nine years and he has repeated that trick twice more this year and is bang in form. Could be the surprise package for Team Europe.

Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland) (Age 33)

(Ryder Cup Apps 2, Ryder Cup Record W4 L2 H2, World Ranking 17, Major Titles 1)

The likeable Irishman has enjoyed another decent season  and once again makes the team after being the European Team’s hero at Celtic Manor, when he defeated Hunter Mahan in the final game at the final hole to win the cup for Europe. McDowell’s game has been erratic at times this season and perhaps he has not won as much as his talent says he should, but he is a great fighter and will no doubt team up with compatriot Rory McIlroy once again in Chicago.

Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)  (Age 23)

(Ryder Cup Apps 1, Ryder Cup Record W1 L1 H2, World Ranking 1, Major Titles 2)

Is there anything left to say about Rory McIlroy? The youngest player since Seve Ballesteros to win two majors and McIlroy achieved both those wins by an incredible eight shots. Bang in form after two wins in the FedEx Cup play offs and he could be set for a bumper $10m payday in the week before the Ryder Cup tees off. McIlroy is the European team’s answer to Tiger Woods, but will the burden of that pressure weigh heavy on a set of 23-year-old shoulders?

Rory-McIlroy-best Irish golfer

Francesco Molinari (Italy) (Age 31)

(Ryder Cup Apps 1, Ryder Cup Record W0 L2 H1, World Ranking 30, Major Titles 0)

It’s fair to say that consistency has been the key for Francesco Molinari to maintain his place in the European team from their 2010 triumph. While his brothers form saw him miss out, Francesco has played well most of the year and has risen as high as the top 15 in the world. A consistent player who can be a sensational putter on his day, but also can be emotional at times. But will that emotion spur him on, or weigh him down?

Ian Poulter (England) (Age 45)

(Ryder Cup Apps 3, Ryder Cup Record W8 L3 H0, World Ranking 25, Major Titles 0)

It is fair to say that if there is a player that the American team fears playing the most, other than Rory McIlroy, it may well be the Englishman Ian Poulter. Over the past two competitions, Poulter has been immense, winning four games out of five in the United States four years ago and then three out of four at Celtic Manor.  His Ryder Cup record is sensational and he adds a healthy dose of competitive spirit, determination and doggedness to Team Europe.

Justin Rose  (England) (Age 32)

(Ryder Cup Apps 1, Ryder Cup Record W3 L1 H0, World Ranking 9, Major Titles 0)

Justin Rose was controversially overlooked for the 2010 Ryder Cup, despite having two wins on the PGA Tour in America that year, but after a great debut in 2008, when he won three of his four matches and halved the other, he returns in 2012 having already won in the US this year in Miami. Another player who combines distance off the tee, with great accuracy and a degree of consistency that has pushed him into the world’s top ten.

Lee Westwood (England) (Age 39)

(Ryder Cup Apps 7, Ryder Cup Record W16 L11 H6, World Ranking 4, Major Titles 0)

Everyone is well aware that perhaps no player deserves a major win more than Lee Westwood but when it comes to Ryder Cup play, Westwood is peerless. Only Nick Faldo has won more points for the European team and with 19 points to his name, and still ranked 4th in the world, Westwood may have many years at the top to beat that.  Arguably the world’s most consistent player tee to green, if Westwood can get his putter hot, the US Team may be in trouble.

Omega-European Masters 2011 Switzerland Westwood

Pictures courtesy of Gorilla Golf Blog, Facebook Pages of Ping, PGA Tour and individual player Facebook fan pages

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