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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Americans own edge on greens at Medinah

By Justin Ray


Getty ImagesBrandt Snedeker's excellent putting this year gives the Americans an advantage on the greens.
The Europeans won the Ryder Cup in 2010 in perhaps the most exciting final day in Ryder Cup history. After multiple rain delays, the new Monday finish came down to the final singles match between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

McDowell won when he holed a 15-foot birdie putt, marking the first time since 1991 that the outcome was decided by the final singles match.

If the competition comes down to a pressure-packed putt again on the last day this year, which team has the advantage? The numbers say the Americans.

Strokes gained putting (SGP) is a measurement of how many strokes a player gains on the rest of the field while on the green. A statistic exclusive to PGA TOUR events, it is also regarded as the most comprehensive putting statistic available in the history of golf.

Every player on the American team played enough PGA TOUR rounds to qualify for the statistic in 2012. Seven of the 12 European Tour members did.

Despite that fact, the European team has three of the four worst performers in the field in strokes gained putting. Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose all rank 130th or worse in SGP on the PGA TOUR in 2012.

On the other side, FedExCup champion and American team member Brandt Snedeker leads the TOUR in SGP this year, and two other U.S. team members are ranked in the top ten (Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson). Luke Donald is the only European team member ranked in the top ten this year.

Some may argue that the impact of this putting statistic is flawed because only seven of the 12 European players qualified for the PGA TOUR-only stat.

However, of the five European Ryder Cup players who did NOT qualify for SGP, only one (Paul Lawrie) ranked in the top-35 on the European Tour in putts per green in regulation.

Ryder Cup history tells us that players will stand over a host of crucial putts this weekend at Medinah. The numbers say that more of those will roll in for the Americans than for Team Europe.