2010 Ryder Cup: Why Europe will win . . .

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One reason: The match galvanizes the European team more than the U.S. side.

The Europeans are still smarting over the 2008 loss at Valhalla and can’t wait to get to Celtic Manor. The course won’t favor the Europeans too much since it is an American-style layout.

If the weather is damp and dismal as expected, however, then that should help the home team’s cause.

Captain Colin Montgomerie

Montgomerie’s huge ego may turn out to be a deciding factor.

The Scotsman is never happier than when he’s in the spotlight, and there will be plenty throughout the week.

If the focus is on Monty, then the players are free to concentrate on winning back the cup. As for his Ryder Cup nous, with the experience of eight matches and six captains, Monty should have no excuses. Will he self-combust to the team’s detriment if the pressure gets too intense?

European team

Luke Donald

Age: 32

Country: England

Ryder record: 5-1-1

2010 wins: 1

World rank: 9

Golfweek rank: 10

Tait’s take: A no-brainer pick for Montgomerie since he is the perfect four-ball and foursomes player (4-0-1 combined). Hits lots of fairways and greens.

Ross Fisher

Age: 29

Country: England

Ryder record: Rookie

2010 wins: 1

World rank: 27

Golfweek rank: 109

Tait’s take: Longest hitter on team should have no problems reaching Celtic Manor’s par 5s. Won the ’09 Volvo World Match Play Championship.

Peter Hanson

Age: 32

Country: Sweden

Ryder record: Rookie

2010 wins: 2

World rank: 42

Golfweek rank: 14

Tait’s take: Perceived as weak link, but may surprise many. Hanson’s three European Tour victories have come in playoffs, so he likes head-to-head play.

Padraig Harrington

Age: 39

Country: Ireland

Ryder record: 7-11-3

2010 wins: 0

World rank: 22

Golfweek rank: 28

Tait’s take: Most controversial of captain’s picks. He struggled this season and hasn’t played well in past two Ryder Cups (0-6-2 combined).

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Age: 46

Country: Spain

Ryder record: 2-7-3

2010 wins: 3

World rank: 26

Golfweek rank: 79

Tait’s take: Losing record in three Ryder Cups, but affable personality means he can play with anyone, although he may play only three sessions.

Martin Kaymer

Age: 25

Country: Germany

Ryder record: Rookie

2010 wins: 3

World rank: 5

Golfweek rank: 26

Tait’s take: Still riding high from his PGA Championship win at Whistling Straits. His calm demeanor is a good fit for four-balls and foursomes.

Graeme McDowell

Age: 31

Country: Northern Ireland

Ryder record: 2-1-1

2010 wins: 2

World rank: 14

Golfweek rank: 30

Tait’s take: Forged good four-ball partnership with Poulter in ’08, and Monty would be wise to reunite them. Look for him also to partner with McIlroy.

Rory McIlroy

Age: 21

Country: Northern Ireland

Ryder record: Rookie

2010 wins: 1

World rank: 8

Golfweek rank: 9

Tait’s take: It’s hard to think of McIlroy as a Ryder Cup rookie. In fact, such is his stature in world golf that he’ll probably play every session.

Edoardo Molinari

Age: 29

Country: Italy

Ryder record: Rookie

2010 wins: 2

World rank: 16

Golfweek rank: 8

Tait’s take: Has guaranteed he and brother Francesco – ’09 World Cup champions – won’t lose. Good driver and an excellent putter.

Francesco Molinari

Age: 27

Country: Italy

Ryder record: Rookie

2010 wins: 0

World rank: 33

Golfweek rank: 15

Tait’s take: Doesn’t possess brother’s flair but is more consistent; hits lots of fairways and greens. Consistency makes him a good partner for anyone.

Ian Poulter

Age: 34

Country: England

Ryder record: 5-2-0

2010 wins: 1

World rank: 13

Golfweek rank: 47

Tait’s take: Loves the Cup pressure and will be raring to go. No player will be more committed to the cause than the flamboyant Englishman.

Lee Westwood

Age: 37

Country: England

Ryder record: 14-10-5

2010 wins: 1

World rank: 3

Golfweek rank: 1

Tait’s take: His No. 1 status on the Euro team is indisputable. Doubts surround his fitness (calf injury), given that he missed the PGA Championship.

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