Golf Tidbits: A statistical look at the Ryder Cup

Statistics can only measure so much in golf. The passion and energy players will feel at the Ryder Cup this weekend is immeasurable.

That being said, there is hard data available to see if either side has a distinct advantage at Medinah starting on Friday.

Medinah is a long course, so driving will be at a premium. The United States team has three players ranked in the top 14 on the PGA Tour in driving distance.

The European team has three ranked in the top 30 on their tour. Advantage USA.

Plenty of golfers can hit the ball a long way, but how many keep it in play? The U.S. squad had three players ranked in the top 21 in driving accuracy, while the Europeans have two ranked in the 20s. Once again, advantage USA.

The European Tour doesn't have a total driving category, but two European Ryder Cup players rank in the top 20 on the PGA Tour in that category. However, the U.S. squad has three of the top 11. For a third time, advantage USA!

Scoring average is overrated in relation to the Ryder Cup, but look at this differential. The European team has nine players ranked in the top 28 on scoring average. Nice number, but it pales in comparison.

All 12 players on the U.S. team rank in the top 20 on the PGA Tour in scoring. Quite obviously, advantage USA.

Each of the 24 players competing this week are ranked in the top 35 in the world rankings, so there is no outlier to skew which team has the better or worse rankings.

Two other major categories to look at will indicate as much about each team heading into this weekend as anything.

The Euros, with just one rookie on the team, own an impressive 60-32-17 combined Ryder Cup record. Stout to say the least.

The U.S. team, which has four rookies, combines for just a 41-59-16 record. Underwhelming stuff right there.

Within those records, the Euros have a better singles record than you think. The United States has the advantage, but it isn't a very big one. The U.S. team is 15-10-3 in singles, while the European team is 11-13-2. Advantage Europe.

The most important statistic about these matches is about putting. It is always about putting.

Brandt Snedeker used his putter to win the Tour Championship and FedExCup last week. And he tops the PGA Tour in putts per round. Four of his teammates rank between 10th and 26th in that category.

Three Europeans who mainly play on the PGA Tour are ranked between 11th and 29th, but they also have three of the top 24 putters in the European Tour stats. Since Luke Donald is ranked on both tours, we'll call that a push with both teams having five players ranked in the top 30.

It looks as though the U.S. team has the statistical edge, but that team record for the European squad is formidable. Maybe we'll have the first tie since 1989.

Or not! I'm going with the United States in a narrow one- or two-point win.


Stacy Lewis went to the University of Arkansas just hoping to make the team. She entered school coming off back surgery to correct scoliosis.

Not only did she make the Razorbacks team, Lewis went on to become a four-time All-American after sitting out her freshman year while recovering from her back surgery.

Lewis qualified for the U.S. Women's Open during her junior year and was declared the winner at the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship. The win was unofficial as the tournament was shortened to just 18 holes due to rain.

She went on to become Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in her senior season and earned her way onto the LPGA via Q School after graduation.

Now in her fourth full season on the tour, she collected her third win of the season last weekend, and it also was her fourth LPGA Tour victory. Lewis has now set her sites on bigger things.

Lewis' new goal is to top Yani Tseng for the No. 1 spot in the world rankings. As good a season as she's had, Lewis is still 4.55 average points behind Tseng.

In layman's terms, Lewis would have to win the final six tournaments of the season on the LPGA Tour, and she still wouldn't earn enough points to pass Tseng.

That being said, Lewis surely has the game to give Tseng a run for her money. The battle for the top spot in the rankings will likely get more intense sometime early next summer.


* I hope the U.S. Ryder Cup team doesn't become infatuated with beating world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. He is only one player on a deep European squad. Don't sell these Euros short, they have a strong team, even if you don't know all the players' names.

* Last weekend, Danny Lee narrowly missed becoming the first player in Tour history to successfully defend a title. He finished second, thus becoming the fourth person in tour history to end second in a title defense.