Brian Barnes' exclusive guide to the runners and Ryders at Oakland Hills
How the two teams - and their captains - measure up.
Sunday 12 September 2004
Presenting United States
Presenting United States
Comes across as not giving a sh** about anything. He plays his own game: if it comes off, all well and good; if not, there's always another day. A great talent, and doesn't seem to panic. His easy-going nature will make him the ideal partner for any of his team-mates. Age 30. Apps Debut
Another captain's pick who immediately repaid Hal's faith by winning. Very consistent from tee to green and appears to be unflappable, which will be important, as the Americans will be under pressure from the crowd. If he putts well then he's a danger. Age 31. Apps 1. P 3. W 1. H 0. L 2
Consistent, but doesn't win as often as he should. Still, he's a tenacious competitor. His putting method, with that claw grip, looks awkward. I can't imagine how anyone can putt well with it. We'll see how he shapes up when the heat's on in the last few holes of a match. Age 35. Apps Debut
Freddie is a character, and at 48 is probably the oldest rookie in Cup history. He will be a great asset in terms of morale, but I'd be surprised if he plays much before the singles. He's the straightest driver on the Tour, which would be useful in foursomes, but he's not very long. Age 48. Apps Debut
Feeling his way back following a wrist injury, and probably still a bit rusty. He's had several good rounds since returning but he's not quite there yet. He's strong mentally and experienced. A straight hitter and solid iron player who knows how to win on a US Open course. Age 34. Apps 3. P 11. W 3. H 2. L 6
A racing certainty to be a captain's pick as he's been playing well all year. He finished second last week, and his form from tee to green is exceptional. However, he's been missing a lot of putts in the 10-12ft range, which I think is due to the pressure of trying too hard to qualify. Age 50. Apps 2. P 8. W 3. H 1. L 4
Davis Love III
Their most experienced Cup player, their Monty if you like. He's had a quiet year but has still won pots of money. He's nigh-unbeatable on his day and tends to thrive on matchplay. He'll have an important role to play helping to relax the five newcomers in their team. Age 40. Apps 5. P 21. W 8. H 4. L 9
I'm amazed Hal has allowed him to switch to a new set of clubs the week before the Cup. In the first round of the Canadian Open he was driving the ball terribly. The point about new clubs is they take time to get used to, even if the weight, loft and lie are the same as your previous ones. Age 34. Apps 4. P 16. W 8. H 3. L 5
Another rookie in his 40s. Not having the greatest of seasons compared with last year, when he won three times. But he's got a good all-round game and is a strong character who could play well with anybody. He's a long, straight hitter and a streaky putter who can get a lot of birdies. Age 44. Apps Debut
I was surprised he qualified, but he did it with a good performance at the US PGA, which shows he can handle pressure. He's the quiet man, a bit like David Howell. He's also a brilliant putter, which is always handy, but I'm not sure whether he's straight enough for Oakland Hills. Age 30. Apps Debut
Another tough competitor. He had a wonderful Cup two years ago and was probably their best player. Consistent professional, doesn't get rattled,makes few mistakes. He plays his own game at his own speed and will make a superb partner in both foursomes and fourballs. Age 37. Apps 1. P 5. W 3. H 1. L 1
Tiger has an awful Cup record by his standards, and there are still questions about his driving. On the plus side, his iron play is brilliant, his short game is immaculate and he's mentally tough. Hal wanted a US Open-style course, but that might help Europe, because we drive it straighter. Age 28. Apps 3. P 15. W 5. H 2. L 8
The captain: Hal Sutton
Hal is patriotic and might be a similar captain to Dave Stockton in the "War on the Shore" in 1991. Hal won't be as diplomatic as Curtis Strange was two years ago, but I do hope he will realise the importance of friendly rivalry.
Confident young lad who hits the ball a country mile. He and Poulter have the potential to be true stars. They're fearless and should be able to put a lot of birdies on the board, especially in the fourballs. Casey's Walker Cup partnership with Donald might be worth reviving. Age 27. Apps Debut
Another experienced player. He's very attacking, yet he poses a problem - do you pair him with a similar player or someone steady? In the fourballs he should have someone similar, who gets birdies, and in the foursomes someone who hits fairways and greens. Age 36. Apps 3. P 12. W 4. H 2. L 6
He's had a superb year and is an ideal captain's pick. He plays most of his golf in America, so he shouldn't be in awe of their players. It's impossible to equate the Walker Cup to the Ryder Cup, but his Walker experience has prepared him for those first-tee nerves all rookies feel. Age 26. Apps Debut
A talented lad who loves the limelight. He's unusual for a Spanish player in that he never allows himself to be affected by the galleries. Wears his heart on his sleeve but his energy should carry him through. He's always so focused in the Cup. Will probably play five matches. Age 24. Apps 2. P 10. W 6. H 1. L 3
Generally, I don't think people should play the week before the Ryder Cup. They've done the hard work and should chill out. But in Padraig's case it's not a bad idea as he needs to find form. I've no worries about him, because he's a fighter who will get stronger in the face of adversity. Age 33. Apps 2. P 7. W 3. H 1. L 3
A possible enigma. He seems a very quiet lad, but that can work both ways. He could be overawed or simply unobtrusively confident. Has a lot of composure. His management stablemates - Clarke, Westwood and McGinley - are all in the team. That might settle him. Age 29. Apps Debut
Miguel Angel Jimenez
He's had a tremendous year. He looks like avery good partner for Garcia. The Spaniards like to play together in the Cup - it seems to fire them up. Garcia has expressed concern that Miguel might have played too much going into the match, which suggests they are potential partners. Age 40. Apps 1. P 5. W 1. H 2. L 2
Comes over as very confident. It's a surprise he's never played in the Ryder Cup before. His bubbly personality will make a huge contribution to morale in the locker room. He has no apparent weakness. He's a long driver, has a wonderful short game and makes a lot of birdies. Age 36. Apps Debut
He holed the putt that sealed Europe's victory at The Belfry and he's keen to get stuck into them again. He's a terrier of a player - see how he scrapped to get into the team this time round - and he can't wait to build on his excellent performance in the US PGA, when he tied for sixth. Age 37. Apps 1. P 3. W 0. H 2. L 1
I was very pleased when Bernhard named Colin. He's had a very difficult time in his personal life, but he seems to have come through. His experience of taking on the Americans and coping with the pressure will be vital, and anyone who partners him will gain confidence. Age 41. Apps 6. P 28. W 16. H 5. L 7
They say he's got something exciting lined up for the galleries, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on. He's not frightened of anything, and showed the right stuff by going six under for those final eight holes in Germany when it looked as though he might have blown it. Age 28. Apps Debut
One of the players Europe will rely on not to be distracted by the rowdy behaviour we are expecting. Bernhard will be more than happy Lee has recovered his form and that he can now take on a leading role for Europe. The 2002 Ryder Cup got him back on the right track. Age 31. Apps 3. P 15. W 7. H 0. L 8
The captain: Bernhard Langer
The captain's job is a bit unnecessary. As long as they say the right things, then it's up to the players - they decide who they're going to play with. Bernhard knows if his decisions work he'll get praise and if not he'll cop the flak.
Latest odds: United States 8-13; Europe 8-5
Brian Barnes was talking to Paul Trow
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