A WHO’S who of the fairway warriors crossing swords in golf’s transatlantic showdown
Rory McIlroy Northern Ireland
AGE 25 CAPS 2 (2010, 2012) RECORD Won 4 Lost 3 Halved 2 MAJORS 4 (2011 US Open, 2012 US PGA, 2014 Open, 2014 US PGA)
McIlroy finished top of both qualifying lists by a massive margin thanks to a brilliant season which saw him win the BMW PGA Championship in May and then record three victories in succession in the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship. Famously described the Ryder Cup as “an exhibition” the year before making his debut in 2010, but has changed his opinion since the narrow victories at Celtic Manor and Medinah, where he beat Keegan Bradley in the singles despite only arriving at the course with minutes to spare.
Henrik Stenson Sweden
AGE 38 CAPS 2 (2006, 2008) RECORD Won 2 Lost 3 Halved 2 MAJORS 0
Effectively sealed his place on the team in November last year when he won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to become the first player to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season. Has unsurprisingly struggled to reach the same heights in 2014 but was fourth in the US Open and third in the US PGA Championship, where he shared the lead on the back nine in the final round before a costly three-putt bogey on the 14th. Played in the record-equalling victory at the K Club in Ireland in 2006 but also Europe’s last defeat at Valhalla, Kentucky in 2008.
Victor Dubuisson France
AGE 24 CAPS 0 MAJORS 0
Won his first European Tour title in Turkey last year and followed that by finishing third behind Stenson in Dubai the following week. Made sure of his place in the team by finishing runner-up in the Accenture Match Play in February, producing some miraculous recovery shots in the final against Jason Day. An enigmatic figure who played in the junior Ryder Cup in 2006.
AGE 38 CAPS 0 MAJORS 0
Secured his place on the team in style by winning the penultimate counting event, the Czech Masters, for his third European Tour title. Took a long time to break into the winner’s circle at the Irish Open in 2012 but then won in Abu Dhabi the following year and was second in both the Nedbank Golf Challenge and WGC-Cadillac Championship.
AGE 34 CAPS 6 (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012) RECORD Won 16 Lost 8 Halved 4 MAJORS 0
A talismanic figure for Europe, so much so that he was brought in as a vice-captain by Colin Montgomerie in 2010 despite becoming disenchanted with golf and taking a two-month break from playing. Won a crucial point alongside Luke Donald in the Saturday fourballs at Medinah and then beat Jim Furyk on the 18th in the singles. Has turned his previously weak putting into an asset and finished second to McIlroy at both the Open and Bridgestone Invitational.
AGE 34 CAPS 2 (2008, 2012) RECORD Won 6 Lost 3 Halved 0 MAJORS 1 (2013 US Open)
Played all five matches at Medinah and birdied the final two holes to beat Phil Mickelson in the singles. Claimed his first major title the following year in the US Open at Merion – again denying Mickelson – and won back-to-back titles for the first time in his career in the Quicken Loans National and Scottish Open earlier this season.
Martin Kaymer Germany
AGE 29 CAPS 2 (2010, 2012) RECORD Won 3 Lost 2 Halved 1 MAJORS 2 (2010 US PGA, 2014 US Open)
Admitted his form was so poor that he would not have picked himself for the team two years ago, but qualified automatically and ended up securing the point which ensured Europe would retain the trophy with victory over Steve Stricker. Won both the Players Championship and US Open by leading from start to finish in 2014, equalling the lowest halfway total in major championship history with consecutive rounds of 65 at Pinehurst.
Thomas Bjorn Denmark
AGE 43 CAPS 2 (1997, 2002) RECORD Won 3 Lost 2 Halved 1 MAJORS 0
Has not played in the biennial contest since 2002 but brings vast experience to the side after acting as vice-captain in 2004, 2010 and 2012. Victory in the lucrative Nedbank Golf Challenge at the end of 2013 was the catalyst for his return to the side, which was sealed by finishing fourth on home soil in the inaugural Made in Denmark event.
AGE 35 CAPS 3 (2008, 2010, 2012) RECORD Won 5 Lost 5 Halved 2 MAJORS 1 (2010 US Open)
Held on to the final automatic qualifying place by 1.61 points after Stephen Gallacher was unable to finish in the top two in the last qualifying event in Italy. Claimed the winning point with victory over Hunter Mahan in the final singles match at Celtic Manor in 2010, three months after winning the US Open at Pebble Beach. One of just three European players to lose in the singles at Medinah.
AGE 39 CAPS 0 MAJORS 0
Successfully defended his Dubai Desert Classic title at the start of February but came into the final qualifying event needing to win or finish joint second with just one other player to dislodge Graeme McDowell from the side. Started the second round 15 shots off the lead and after six holes was outside the projected cut mark, but stormed home in 30 for a 65 and shot 65 in the final round as well, missing out on joint second by a single shot. He did enough, however, to earn a wild card.
AGE 38 CAPS 4 (2004, 2008, 2010, 2012) RECORD Won 12 Lost 3 Halved 0 MAJORS 0
Has earned the nickname “Mr Ryder Cup” and it is not difficult to see why. Has needed a wild card in 2012 and this year, but has raised his game on every occasion and none more so than at Medinah. Won all four of his matches and famously birdied the last five holes alongside Rory McIlroy to beat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in the Saturday fourballs, after which he told his team-mates “We have a pulse”. Also beat Webb Simpson in the singles to take his record to 12 wins from 15 matches.
AGE 41 CAPS 8 (1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012) RECORD Won 18 Lost 13 Halved 6 MAJORS 0
Another captain’s pick, Westwood, 41, finished seventh in the Masters in April and won in Malaysia the following week, but suffered a slump in form until a final round of 63 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August. He also shared the lead after the first round of the US PGA Championship before finishing 15th, but failed to advance after the first FedEx Cup play-off event. Boasts vast experience with eight consecutive appearances since making his debut in 1997.
AGE 35 CAPS 2 (2010, 2012) RECORD Won 3 Lost 5 Halved 0 MAJORS 2 (Masters 2012, 2014)
Effectively secured his place on the team with his second Masters title at Augusta in April, having already won the Northern Trust Open earlier in the season. Played in the narrow defeats in 2010 and 2012, losing the opening singles match to Luke Donald at Medinah.
AGE 25 CAPS 1 (2010) RECORD Won 0 Lost 1 Halved 2 MAJORS 0
Has won just one PGA Tour event in his career but compiled an impressive record in major championships in 2014, finishing joint fifth in the Masters, joint second in both the US Open and Open Championship and joint third in the US PGA. “This is the first one that hurts,” he said after a costly bogey late in the final round at Valhalla.
AGE 44 CAPS 8 (1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012) RECORD Won 9 Lost 17 Halved 4 MAJORS 1 (US Open 2003)
Has not won a PGA Tour event since 2010 but recorded seven top-ten finishes this season, including a fourth place in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Another player with a point to prove after Medinah, where he bogeyed the last two holes to lose his crucial singles match to Sergio Garcia.
AGE 21 CAPS 0 MAJORS 0
Shot to fame by winning the 2013 John Deere Classic at the age of 19, becoming the first teenage winner on the PGA Tour since 1931. Held a two-shot lead after seven holes in the final round of this year’s Masters, but eventually finished second behind Watson.
AGE 24 CAPS 0 MAJORS 0
Caused controversy after his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral – his second win of the season – by claiming he was one of the top five players in the world. Missed the cut in four of his next six events but finished fourth in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to effectively secure his place.
AGE 38 CAPS 3 (2006, 2010, 2012) RECORD Won 6 Lost 4 Halved 1 MAJORS 1 (Masters 2007)
Won his 11th PGA Tour title in Hawaii in January and recorded five other top-ten finishes in a consistent season. Won two of his three matches with Jason Dufner in 2012 and was only denied a 100 per cent record by a sensational performance from Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy in the Saturday fourballs. Beat Graeme McDowell in the singles, one of just three American wins that day.
AGE 28 CAPS 1 (2012) RECORD Won 3 Lost 1 Halved 0 MAJORS 1 (US PGA 2011)
One of Tom Watson’s wild cards this time round, Bradley formed a superb partnership with Phil Mickelson at Medinah, winning their first three matches comfortably before controversially opting out of the Saturday afternoon fourballs citing fatigue. Lost in the singles to Rory McIlroy, who only arrived at the course with minutes to spare after getting his time zones mixed up.
AGE 32 CAPS 2 (2008, 2010) RECORD Won 3 Lost 2 Halved 3 MAJORS 0
Went unbeaten on the winning side at Valhalla in 2008, claiming three and a half points from five matches, but is best remembered for losing the vital final singles match to Graeme McDowell at Celtic Manor two years later. A wild card, he comes into the event in form after winning the first FedEx Cup play-off event and finishing seventh in the US PGA Championship.
AGE 29 CAPS 1 (2012) RECORD Won 2 Lost 2 Halved 0 MAJORS 1 (US Open 2012)
Picked by Tom Watson on the strength of his two resounding fourball wins alongside Bubba Watson at Medinah, the pair defeating Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson and Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari 5&4. Lost his singles match to Ian Poulter but comes into this year’s contest in decent form with two top-ten finishes in his last three events.
AGE 36 CAPS 2 (2010, 2012) RECORD Won 3 Lost 2 Halved 2 MAJORS 0
Former US Amateur champion topped the PGA Tour money list in 2010 and combined with Gary Woodland in 2011 to give the United States their first World Cup victory since 2000. Was fifth in this year’s Masters and won his seventh PGA Tour title the following week in the RBC Heritage.
AGE 44 CAPS 9 (1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012) RECORD Won 14 Lost 18 Halved 6 MAJORS 5 (Masters 2004, 2006, 2010, US PGA 2005, Open 2013)
Already the record holder with nine appearances, Mickelson also reached an unwanted record at Celtic Manor, accumulating the most defeats against Europe. Was determined to maintain a proud record of qualifying automatically for each team and did so by finishing second to Rory McIlroy in the US PGA Championship.
AGE 35 CAPS 0 MAJORS 0
Won his first PGA Tour title in his 188th start and claimed two more victories in his next seven events to secure a Ryder Cup debut by February. Also recorded top-ten finishes in the Masters and US Open.