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Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: September 3, 12:33 PM ET
Europeans clear favorite at Ryder Cup

In what can only be described as a painfully long process to make the Team USA Ryder Cup selections public, we now finally have the three names who will fill out the U.S. roster: Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson.

So who will be under the most pressure at Gleneagles? And who holds the early nod for the 40th Ryder Cup matches?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. Who has the best team on paper?

Collins: Of course it's the Europeans. They have a team with three guys who've been or are No. 1 in the world. They have won the last 37 times (seems like it) and they're playing at home. Were you trying to make me more depressed by asking this question?

Evans: The Europeans have Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer, who between them have won five of the biggest tournaments this year. And they have Ian Poulter, the best player from either side at the Medinah matches.

Harig: The Europeans, simply because they've got two major championship winners in Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer as well as proven veterans such as McDowell, Rose, Garcia, Poulter, Westwood and Bjorn.

Maguire: The Europeans, and it's not even close. They've won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, and the U.S. hasn't won on foreign soil since 1993 at the Belfry, when, coincidentally, Tom Watson was also the American captain. And winning away from home is never easy -- just ask the Europeans, who didn't do it until 1987. (Note: The matches started before the Great Depression.)

Some of the top American qualifiers aren't exactly in great form, either, like Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. The guys who are playing well (like Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler) haven't found the winner's circle yet this year. For the Europeans, they have four of the top five in the world rankings. Enough said.

2. Biggest surprise pick for Team USA?

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: There were no surprises. All the picks make sense. Watson went with experience over unproven rookie energy. Would Chris Kirk, Ryan Palmer or even Billy Horschel have been a bad pick? No, but it would have been a bigger surprise.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Webb Simpson was the biggest surprise. Tom Watson could have very easily picked Bill Haas, Chris Kirk or Brandt Snedeker over him.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Webb Simpson. The 2012 U.S. Open champion has done little all year and was seemingly picked because of what he did at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Webb Simpson. It's been feast or famine for the 2012 U.S. Open champion during the last couple of months. He owns as many top-10 finishes (three) as missed cuts. He does have a win this "season" but that was nearly 12 months ago. All that when a guy like Chris Kirk has two W's over that same timespan, including one Monday. Hopefully for captain Watson, Simpson has a top-10-type week and not the MC version.

3. Who will be under the most pressure at the Ryder Cup?

Collins: The U.S. rookies. They all qualified on their merit, so if they don't produce, there will be serious grumblings from the public if they play in more than three matches each.

Evans: The Europeans have won five of the last six matches. And they are playing on home soil, so they are under a lot of pressure to maintain that dominance. Meanwhile, the U.S. team, the underdogs, have nothing to lose.

Harig: Stephen Gallacher. It's his first Ryder Cup, and he's playing on home soil in Scotland, a combination both awesome and daunting.

Maguire: Stephen Gallacher for Team Europe. Every player feels the pressure, most notably the rookies, but Gallacher has the most to prove at Gleneagles. He's the only Scotsman in the matches that are being held so close to where he grew up. Plus, as a rookie and a captain's pick, you might as well assume he'll be sitting out the first session of matches on Sept. 26 so he can get his sea legs under him.

4. Strengths and weaknesses of both teams?

Collins: Team Europe -- Strength: They know how to win. Weakness: Everyone telling them they're going to crush the USA.

Team USA -- Strength: Confidence; even if on paper they look like they'll get killed, they believe. Weakness: The experience that captain Watson put on the team ... it isn't experienced at winning.

Evans: Both teams are packed with veteran players, Ryder Cup experience and major championships. Rookies are always a weakness, in terms of preparation for the pressure, but each player handles pressure, regardless of experience.

Harig: For what it's worth, everyone on the U.S. team but Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker have played on at least one U.S. Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team, although Hunter Mahan is the only one to win in the last five months. The Europeans are loaded with top-end talent, but two of the team's most highly decorated players -- Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood -- have not performed well for months.

Maguire: For Team USA, the advantage might be in its youth, with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. Those 20-something players haven't been scarred (much) by the Europeans. If you take out the over-40 crowd (Mickelson and Furyk), the Americans' combined overall Ryder Cup match record is a respectable 20-17-8. Include them and it's a bewildering 43-52-18. Also, don't underestimate the importance of a crafty veteran like Tom Watson at the helm.

The Americans' weakness might be that before Hunter Mahan's victory last week at the Barclays, no U.S. player had won on the PGA Tour since Matt Kuchar the week after the Masters. Posting victories in stroke-play events doesn't always yield great results in match-play competitions, but having players in great form sure doesn't hurt.

For Team Europe, their advantage comes in multiple places, but a large portion of their edge can be found in their captain's picks. Paul McGinley's last selection came down to a pair of former world No. 1s in Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. C'mon, with that type of depth, we're most likely looking more at a K Club type finish (18½-9½) than Medinah or Celtic Manor (14½-13½).

As for a weakness, the Americans will have to hope that Team Europe gets a little big for its britches. Overconfidence can fester in these types of events, and many a pundit has said it might have hurt the U.S. in previous Ryder Cups.