Home-course advantage big at Ryder Cup

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
11:32
AM ET

Getty ImagesLuke Donald and Tiger Woods headline the European and American Ryder Cup teams.
The 2012 Ryder Cup tees off on Friday morning at Medinah Country Club in Illinois, where the Europeans will try to win their second straight cup and seventh since 1995.

Home-course advantage has been a big factor in the Ryder Cup recently, as the past three cups have gone to the home team. Americans have won 16 of 19 times when the Ryder Cup matches have been in America, including each of the first 13 Ryder Cups held on United States soil.

But in 1987, the Europeans won for the first time on U.S. soil at Muirfield Village in Ohio. Since then, the two teams have alternated victories when the event has been in the U.S.

UNITED STATES TEAM
Tiger Woods, who was No. 1 on the United States Ryder Cup points list, is likely looking forward to returning to Medinah Country Club. He has won the past two major championships there (1999 PGA Championship and 2006 PGA Championship) and was a combined 29 under par in those wins, shooting par or better in all eight rounds.

Woods is making his seventh appearance in the Ryder Cup. He has made his mark in singles play (4-1-1) but has struggled to earn points in foursomes (4-7-1) and four-balls (5-6-0).

So whom does Woods not want to see at Medinah? Lee Westwood, who has defeated Woods in six of seven previous Ryder Cup matches.

Phil Mickelson is appearing in the Ryder Cup for the ninth time, the most ever by an American player. As a result of his longevity, he also has the distinction of losing more matches (17) than any other American.

Mickelson played well in his first four appearances, winning eight of 16 matches, but has struggled since then. He has lost 12 times and has only three wins in 18 matches over his past four appearances.

EUROPEAN TEAM
This is quietly one of the strongest European teams in history from a statistical perspective. The players with the highest point percentage in European team history with a minimum of three Ryder Cups played (Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia) are all on this year’s squad.

The Europeans also have their good-luck charm in place, with Donald on the team. Donald is playing in his sixth team match-play event, including four Ryder Cups. He is personally 15-3-1 in his own matches, and his teams are a perfect 5-0 (3-0 at the Ryder Cup).

Garcia also should be able to help the European effort this weekend, especially in foursomes. He has never lost in nine foursomes matches, surrendering only a half point in a 2008 match with Lee Westwood.

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