Thursday, August 9, 2012

Updated Look At The US Ryder Cup Standings

Here is a look at the current Ryder Cup standings going into the PGA Championship.


Advanced Total Driving: 8th

Putts Gained: 39th
Short Game Play: 70th

Birdie Zone: 115th
Safe Zone: 15th
Danger Zone: 5th

Obviously, Tiger is going to be on the team unless a sudden injury forces him out. His ballstriking is far better than his critics give him credit for at this point in time. However, what I saw from him at the British Open was almost every shot was either a pronounced ‘played’ fade or a stinger which would draw a little. It tells me that he is afraid of missing left and while he can hit effective shots by going around the course and hitting pronounced fades and stingers, it’s not where he is at his absolute best. However, it’s still amazing what he can do while not being at his absolute best.

I think this Tiger works better for the US team in the Ryder Cup because he can hit safer shots. I do think we have been missing those spectacular shots from Tiger that seemed to be the ones that only he could hit. I also think that the competition just is not afraid of him anymore. We don’t see competitors in the hunt on Sunday, only to shoot 78 and not even make it close. I think his ability to hit those spectacular shots, his surreal Danger Zone play and putting, combined with his intimidation factor is why he won Majors with Haney. He doesn’t have them now, but I think he’s a much better all-around player now than when he was under Haney and I think that will help the US team come Medinah.


Advanced Total Driving: 6th

Putts Gained: 85th
Short Game Play: 4th

Birdie Zone: 41st
Safe Zone: 13th
Danger Zone: 32nd

He sorta worries me because he’s been the type of player that legitimately plays great on Tour, but come the Ryder Cup he struggles. Great ballstriker, but an average at best putter. Plus, when he’s had some big situations on Tour he has come up weak a few times. If he can putt decent and handle the Ryder Cup pressure, he’ll be a key member of the team. If not, he’ll be another Jim Furyk type.


Advanced Total Driving: 1st

Putts Gained: 159th
Short Game Play: 8th

Birdie Zone: 124th
Safe Zone: 85th
Danger Zone: 4th

He hasn’t played a lot of tournaments this year after winning the Masters. I do think that Medinah does allow him to play his game and that’s a nice advantage for the US team. But he’s another suspect putter and his driving is not always accurate and that can hamstring the team. As big of a boom or bust as the US team has in a player.


Advanced Total Driving: 16th

Putts Gained: 15th
Short Game Play: 52nd

Birdie Zone: 110th
Safe Zone: 96th
Danger Zone: 68th

Bradley has been playing consistently well for most of this year. His weakness tends to be his iron game, but he’s a fantastic driver of the ball and for the most part has putted well this year. If you can drive it and putt it well, it usually keeps you in the hunt on Tour. I think it works well in the Ryder. Particularly since he hits it fairly long and finds a lot of fairways, which would be great for a partner in alternate shot and helpful in best score format.


Advanced Total Driving: 138th

Putts Gained: 36th
Short Game Play: 38th

Birdie Zone: 6th
Safe Zone: 10th
Danger Zone: 12th

Last year, Simpson was one of those players who did almost everything well. This year his only real struggle has been with the driver. Still, he was able to win the US Open. He hits all of his irons from all distances very well and he’s a clutch putter.


Advanced Total Driving: 29th

Putts Gained: 2nd
Short Game Play: 40th

Birdie Zone: 96th
Safe Zone: 35th
Danger Zone: 96th

Johnson is more of the type that I would think would play well in the Ryder Cup and in his brief time on the team has done well. He’s not wild off the tee. He hits his irons well. And he’s a great putter and has a great short game. He’s probably in, but I think he should be a captain’s pick if he doesn’t quite qualify. This team needs better putting.


Advanced Total Driving: 27th

Putts Gained: 42nd
Short Game Play: 88th

Birdie Zone: 64th
Safe Zone: 29th
Danger Zone: 9th

He’s another player that should be a captain’s pick if he happens to just miss the top-8. He’s not long, but he hits everything well and can putt. I think guys like Zach and Kuchar are the types that can give the Euros more problems than anybody else. Although I think it would be wise to split them up instead of pairing them together.


Advanced Total Driving: 173rd

Putts Gained: 14th
Short Game Play: 35th

Birdie Zone: 31st
Safe Zone: 131st
Danger Zone: 66th

He’ll make the team because no captain wants to leave Mickelson off the team. Unfortunately, I think that’s where the Euros have the advantage as their captains are not afraid to not pick popular choices, like Colin Montgomerie not selecting Justin Rose, Paul Casey or Sergio Garcia last year. My problem with Phil is he’s a terrible Ryder Cup player at 10-17-6. He had success at the 2008 Ryder Cup, but it seemed that he was being carried by his partners. If he qualifies, there’s nothing DL III can do. But if he doesn’t qualify, it would be nice to see DL III make the tough choice.


Advanced Total Driving: 3rd

Putts Gained: 92nd
Short Game Play: 80th

Birdie Zone: 137th
Safe Zone: 14th
Danger Zone:86th

Mahan’s game is that he’s got decent distance off the tee and is a great driver of the ball. He’s a much better putter than given credit for, but his short game stinks. And what it boils down for him is how well he’s playing from the Danger Zone. He’s been relatively average from the Danger Zone for most of his career. If he’s playing well from the Danger Zone, he doesn’t have to worry about getting up and down. If he’s playing poorly from the Danger Zone, then he’s got some serious issues. If I were DL III I would focus intently on how well Hunter is playing from the Danger Zone up until he has to announce his picks as if he’s striking it well, he would be a valuable member to the team. If he makes the team anyway, then I would probably favor him in the low-score format. If I go to an alternate shot, I would try to get him to be the player who tees off on the long par-4’s. He’s ranked t-55th in par-3 scoring average which tells me he is pretty decent from the tee box on par-3’s.


Advanced Total Driving: 73rd

Putts Gained: 56th
Short Game Play: 98th

Birdie Zone: 1st
Safe Zone: 11th
Danger Zone: 1st

The problem with Stricker is he does not play in a lot of events and since he won the Tournament of Champions, he cut down his schedule quite a bit. So he should be in the top-8 if he had played more tournaments. I would still pair him up with Tiger and see if the Euros can beat them.


Advanced Total Driving: 34th

Putts Gained: 21st
Short Game Play: 34th

Birdie Zone: 38th
Safe Zone: 44th
Danger Zone: 14th

Furyk is a hard player to stay away from because he has the game you want for a Ryder Cup player, a very predictable ballstriker and good putter and chipper. But, he’s been horrific in the Ryder Cup with a career record of 8-15-4. It would be tough to lay off on him with his recent play, but that may be what needs to happen or they may have to find a better player to pair him up with.


Advanced Total Driving: 42nd

Putts Gained: 140th
Short Game Play: 67th

Birdie Zone: 81st
Safe Zone: 43rd
Danger Zone: 67th

The parts I like about Fowler is he’s a very good ballstriker, he’s young and when he’s on his ‘A Game’ he’s tough to beat. He kind of reminds me of Sergio, a great Ryder Cup player, in that sense. However, he’s currently in what appears to be a legit feud with Jason Dufner and I would not want a Sergio/Padraig in 2008 situation on my hands if I was DL III. Particularly since I would value Dufner’s style of play in the Ryder Cup far more than Fowler’s.

His play at Kiawah would tremendously influence my decision as I would want him when the iron is hot, otherwise I’ll pass.


Advanced Total Driving: 108th

Putts Gained: 5th
Short Game Play: 58th

Birdie Zone: 37th
Safe Zone: 52nd
Danger Zone: 121st

Very average driver of the ball who does everything extremely well from inside 175 yards. Great putter who can roll it with the best of them. I would lean towards having him, although is collapse at the British Open would bother me. While his Danger Zone play has been poor this season, it has taken a noticeable jump recently and that does not include the British Open as ShotLink doesn’t record data for the majors. I’d be very keen on to how well he plays at Kiawah.


Advanced Total Driving: 38th

Putts Gained: 66th
Short Game Play: 171st

Birdie Zone: 89th
Safe Zone: 40th
Danger Zone: 11th

Could get in with a good showing at Kiawah because he’s usually a great wind player because he can hit low, hard bullets. I would probably lean against him because he’s had such a difficult year with the injuries and has never really settled in and he’s too much of a problem on the greens.


Advanced Total Driving: 13th

Putts Gained: 9th
Short Game Play: 174th

Birdie Zone: 7th
Safe Zone: 17th
Danger Zone: 3rd

Statistics wise, he should be having a much greater season than he is. He just has these almost inexplicable bad rounds and they often start off early on and put him too far behind the 8-ball. If I were to choose him, I would be conscious that he may get off to a slow start and really come around. I would probably have him play in the 1st day and see how it goes from there.

With the standings right now, here are the top 8:

1 Tiger Woods
2 Jason Dufner
3 Bubba Watson
4 Keegan Bradley
5 Webb Simpson
6 Zach Johnson
7 Matt Kuchar
8 Phil Mickelson

Here would be ‘captain’s picks’ at the moment:

1. Steve Stricker

Too good of a player with too good of an all-around game to pass up. Probably would not be overpowered at Medinah and he and Tiger have a history of good play together.

2. Brandt Snedeker

Another great putter who would be a good pair with a good Danger Zone player, preferably somebody long off the tee. I could see him and Dufner being a dominating duo.

3. Bo Van Pelt

I think the numbers tell me that he’s too good (if not great) to pass up. I would make sure to pair him up with a player that hits a lot of greens and when they miss greens, they don’t miss by much. Short Game play and 3-putting seem to be his only weaknesses. Another player that I think would pair extremely well with Jason Dufner or even Stricker or a Ben Curtis.

4. Ben Curtis

Another streaky player, mainly due to his inconsistent ballstriking. But typically has been a good putter and has solid Ryder Cup experience. Another guy that I would want to catch when he’s hot. I would also like to see how prepared he is for the Ryder Cup or if he just thought he didn’t have a chance to qualify and was not even thinking about it.


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