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By Donald Crawley, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
The Ryder Cup-"Homecoming Scotland 2014"
United States Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- As excitement builds toward the 40th Ryder Cup staged in Scotland for the first time since 1973 both teams have been picked and they are ready for the intense pressure of playing for their team and country. Golf for most part is a very individual game. You against the course. But the Ryder Cup is different. You are representing your mates and flag.

Gleneagles, Perthshire, Scotland is a wonderful resort that boasts of three courses, the Kings, Queens and hosting the matches this year the PGA Centenary Course. I have had the good fortune to play Gleneagles a couple of times back in the 80's, but only the Kings and Queens course because the Nicklaus designed 'new' course didn't open until 1993. Some feel that the Nicklaus design will favor the American team, but as Captain Tom Watson points out, and I quote from a recent interview with Tom, "I think the Europeans have an advantage on this golf course. It's hosted the Johnny Walker Championship and other championships before. Some of the Europeans players have [played that golf course in competition many times. I don't think anybody on our team right here has played that course once. That is an advantage for Europe. That's just the way the Europeans pick their Ryder Cup sites. It's usually a site where they've held the European Tour tournament, so their players are more familiar with the course for the Ryder Cup."

Scotland is widely regarded at the home of golf, and I wrote about this in past articles, as I took playing tours to Scotland last year. Thus it is only fitting that the centerpiece of the year-long celebration known as ?Homecoming Scotland 2014" is the 40th Ryder Cup set for Sept 26-28. The last Scotland venue for the Ryder Cup was Muirfield, and the Americans won 19-13. That 1973 US victory was part of a string of 13 consecutive matches during which the American side won or retained the Ryder Cup, stretching from 1959 to 1983. Since the European team broke the streak with a victory at the Belfry in England 1985, the US has won just four times with nine losses and a draw in the biennial team matches. In hopes of spoiling the Scottish homecoming festivities, the PGA of America has turned to one of Scotland's favorite U.S players- Tom Watson, winner of 5 British Opens, four won on Scottish turf. Watson is one of only five Americans to be named an honorary member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. And Tom was the captain in 1993 when the U.S. earned its last Ryder Cup victory on foreign soil with a 15-13 win at the Belfry. Tom quotes again: "I so enjoyed being captain in 1993. It was a great pleasure to be over there and experience that feeling of winning" say's Watson, who turns 65 this month. "You're doing it for the team and you're doing it for your country. I just love that feeling, and I always wanted to have that feeling again."

The European captain is a lesser known player but a very competent captain and competitor. Paul Mc Ginley an Irishman who is a close friend of past captain (twice), and a player in the 1955 Ryder Cup, Mr. John Jacobs. Paul desperately wanted John to be in attendance this year to offer a word of wisdom to the young European team. However, John in his 90th year told me he "will just have to do watching it on the telly", as his ailing back restricts travel from his comfy chair in his home, some 10 hours south of Gleneagles. Paul is a past Ryder Cup player himself. McGinley made three consecutive, and victorious, Ryder Cup appearances in 2002, 2004 and 2006. His ten-foot putt on the 18th hole in his match against Jim Furyk won the 2002 Ryder Cup for Europe. In the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club in Ireland, McGinley famously offered a handshake and conceded a 20-foot putt for a half to J. J. Henry on the 18th green of his last day singles match because he feared his opponent might have been put off when a streaker ran across the green. In the 2012 Ryder Cup, McGinley served as one of the vice-captains to European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal. McGinley previously acted in this capacity for Colin Montgomerie at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Who will win? I am on the fence for a couple of reasons. One, I think it will be a very close match. Can we repeat the unbelievable excitement and drama over the last few holes of each singles match at Medinah in 2012? Two, I am a Brit but now an American citizen having spent many more years in the States than my native land England. So my heart and head have a serious conflict. I will go on a limb and say the Europeans win by one point.

Here's the line up. We don't know how the captains will team the players, as the chemistry between the players makes a difference. Foursome's in the morning, which means alternate shots, two man team; better ball in afternoon (called fourball in Britain), for two days and then singles matches mano v mano on day three. No Tiger and Stricker team this year, no Spanish Armada of past (the late great Seve who inspired so many and teamed with his apprentice Jose Marie Olazabal, 2012 captain of the defending European champions ).So your guess is as good as mine, but I feel that the Euro will pip the dollar this year, and retain the cup.

Turn on the telly September 26-28 and cheer on your favorite team, wishing for good sportsmanship and a brilliant display of world class golf.

2014 Ryder Cup Teams
United States
Player Age Ryder Cup Record Appearances
Rickie Fowler 25 0-1-2 2
Jim Furyk 44 9-17-4 9
Zach Johnson 38 6-4-1 4
Matt Kuchar 36 3-2-2 3
Phil Mickelson 44 14-18-6 10
Patrick Reed 24 0-0-0 1
Jordan Spieth 21 0-0-0 1
Jimmy Walker 35 0-0-0 1
Bubba Watson 35 3-5-0 3
Keegan Bradley 28 3-1-0 2
Hunter Mahan 32 3-2-3 3
Webb Simpson 29 2-2-0 2
Player Age Ryder Cup Record Appearances
Thomas Bjorn 43 3-2-1 3
Jamie Donaldson 38 0-0-0 1
Victor Dubinsson 24 0-0-0 1
Sergio Garcia 34 16-8-4 7
Martin Kaymer 29 3-2-0 3
Graeme McDowell 35 5-5-2 4
Rory McIlroy 25 4-3-2 3
Justin Rose 34 6-3-0 3
Henrik Stenson 38 2-3-2 3
Stephen Gallacher 39 0-0-0 1
Ian Poulter 38 12-3-0 5
Lee Westwood 41 18-13-6 9

Recently voted Top-10 in Best Teachers in State of Arizona by Golf Digest. Also, contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

When Scottsdale beckons and golf awaits, a call to Donald Crawley at The Boulders is a must.

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

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