After spending the last two years talking about Ryder Cup standings, captain's picks and pairings, we're now just days away from kicking off the biennial matches at famed Medinah Country Club. Finally. With that in mind, there's only one thing left to do, and that's break down both teams. We begin with the defending champions from Europe.
Rory McIlroy (Ryder Cup record: 1 win-1 loss-2 halves)
We have to kick things off with Rory McIlroy, who comes to Medinah as the No.1-ranked golfer in the world. The 23-year-old has only played in one Ryder Cup, but there's no question he'll be the team's anchor this week. With a major at the PGA Championship and back-to-back FedExCup victories, no one on the European squad is playing better than McIlroy at the moment.
Lee Westwood (Ryder Cup record: 16-11-6)
If the Ryder Cup was a major championship, Lee Westwood would have at least three or four wins by now. In seven appearances he's been one of Europe's best performers, winning 16 matches -- which is more than any other player on the team. Despite struggling with his game late in the year, Westwood's turned it around over the last few weeks and looks primed for another big Ryder Cup.
Luke Donald (Ryder Cup record: 8-2-1)
In my humble opinion, he's Europe's version of Steve Stricker, a guy you can pair with pretty much anyone on the squad and expect a point. Donald isn't long off the tee, but his accuracy and strong short game make him the perfect ham and egg partner. By the way, he may be the only European to receive a rousing ovation from the pro-Stars and Stripes crowd. Donald grew up in Chicago and went to school at Northwestern, so the Ryder Cup is in his backyard.
Justin Rose (Ryder Cup record: 3-1-0)
Rose makes his second Ryder Cup appearance coming off a second-place finish at the Tour Championship. He picked up his fourth PGA Tour win earlier this year at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and has been rock-solid for much of the year. And like almost every member of the European Ryder Cup team, he has a winning record.
Graeme McDowell (Ryder Cup record: 4-2-2)
McDowell will forever be remembered for his putt on the 17th hole at Celtic Manor that secured the Ryder Cup for Europe. Even though his last official win came in 2010, you shouldn't count out McDowell having a big week. He thrives in pressure-packed situations and will most likely be the Sunday singles anchor.
Sergio Garcia (Ryder Cup record: 14-6-4)
Europe's lightning rod will likely hear more jeers from the crowd than any other member. Over the years Garcia has proven to be the perfect Ryder Cup villain with his flashy antics and over-the-top celebrations. After missing the 2010 Ryder Cup, Garcia picked up two wins last season and his eighth PGA Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship to secure his spot. Whether you love or hate Sergio, I think we can all agree he adds a little something extra to the matches.
Ian Poulter (Ryder Cup record: 8-3-0)
One of Jose Maria Olazabal's Ryder Cup wildcards, Poulter has also thrived in the Ryder Cup cauldron over the years. He won four points (out of a possible five) at the 2008 Ryder Cup as a wildcard selection. His fiery personality fits in perfectly with the Ryder Cup.
Paul Lawrie (Ryder Cup record: 3-1-1)
The 1999 British Open championship has enjoyed a resurgence over the last two years, winning the 2011 Andalucia Open to break a nine-year winless drought. He followed the victory up with wins at the Qatar Masters and Johnnie Walker Championship, in 2012, to secure his spot on the team.
Peter Hanson (Ryder Cup record: 1-2-0)
One of only four members of the team with a losing record, Hanson picked up a win on the European Tour earlier this month and had a one-shot lead after three rounds at the Masters before stumbling over the final 18 holes. He also finished T-7 at the PGA Championship.
Martin Kaymer (Ryder Cup record: 2-1-1)
There's no bigger Ryder Cup question mark than Martin Kayner. The former PGA Championship winner has been a shell of his former self this season, missing the cut in his last two major starts and barely making the team as an automatic qualifier. Based on his current form, there's no way he would've made the European squad as a wildcard selection. Will Jose Maria Olazabal risk Kaymer over the first two days, or will he sit the bench until singles? We'll have to wait and see.
Francesco Molinari (Ryder Cup record: 0-2-1)
Won the Open de Espana this year and currently sits in third on the European Tour's Race to Dubai money list. With the exception of Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts, he's the only member of the squad without a victory.
Nicolas Colsaerts (Ryder Cup rookie)
The lone rookie on the European squad, Colsaerts recorded his second European Tour win earlier this year at the Volvo World Match Play, and followed it up with 10 top-10 finished in 2012. Also finished T-27 at the U.S. Open and T-7 at the British Open this summer. He's long off the tee and should feel right at home on the 7,658-yard layout.
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