The Baltimore Sun

I was actually surprised, Bill, to hear that anyone thinks the U.S. has a good shot in this week's Ryder Cup.

Sure, the Yanks dominated the first 60 or so years of the international golf showdown, but check out recent history. The Europeans have won the past three Ryder Cups, five of the past eight and eight of the past 11.

In 2004 and 2006, seemingly loaded U.S. teams lost, 18 1/2 points to 9 1/2 points. For those unfamiliar with match-play scoring, that's the equivalent of say, a 35-10 beatdown in the NFL.

Quite simply, the Ryder Cup isn't something Americans do well anymore. And they'll be trying to buck recent history without the best golfer of all time, Tiger Woods. That's not as big a handicap as it sounds. The Ryder Cup is the one area of golf Tiger has never overwhelmed. He's generally good for a singles win, however, and I'm guessing the U.S. will need all the points it can get come Sunday afternoon at Louisville's Valhalla Golf Club.

It has been a bit of a mystery why the Europeans dominate the event. Are they simply better-suited to team play than their individualistic American rivals? Are Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie inspired by love of country in a way that Phil Mickelson and Woods are not?

I don't know, but I do know that the Europeans won't need mystical team spirit to win this time. They have the better players. Irishman Padraig Harrington has won the past two majors, Garcia is the Ryder Cup master and Swedes Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson are playing the best golf of their careers. The Americans meanwhile, bring six Ryder Cup rookies and a Mickelson who hasn't played at peak form in two years.

It's hard to like their chances.

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