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37th Ryder Cup primer

U.S. team | Captain: Paul Azinger

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Players (Ryder Cup record)

2008 season, Noteworthy

Phil Mickelson (9-12-4)

Won twice and finished in the top 10 seven times. Has the best scoring average on the PGA Tour (69.52) and is third on the money list ($4, 779, 375).

In his past three Ryder Cups, Mickelson is 3-9-2. He has not won a singles match since 1999.

Stewart Cink (3-5-4)

Best season since 2004, when he also rose to 10th in the world rankings. Won his first tournament in three seasons (Travelers Championship) and made 18 of 21 cuts.

As good as this season has been, Cink has not finished in the top 30 since winning the Travelers three months ago.

Kenny Perry (0-2-0)

Motivated to play the Ryder Cup in his home state, had one of his best seasons ever. Won three times and finished fourth on the money list ($4, 543, 394).

Lives in Franklin, two hours from Louisville. At 48, he is the veteran on the team.

Jim Furyk (4-9-2)

Made 22 cuts in 25 events and earned more than $3-million, but did not win a tournament. He fell to ninth in the world rankings after finishing third last season.

This is his sixth Ryder Cup, and he has played with 10 different partners.

Anthony Kim (0-0-0)

Broke through with two wins. Sixth on the money list ($4, 246, 765) and the third-best scoring average on tour (69.62).

At 23, the youngest on either team. Played in the 2005 Walker Cup.

Justin Leonard (0-3-5)

Made 22 of 23 cuts and had 13 top-25 finishes. Won the St. Jude Championship in a playoff.

First Ryder Cup since his 45-foot putt at Brookline, Mass. in 1999 to clinch victory, the last by an American team.

Ben Curtis (0-0-0)

Rebounded from a disappointing 2007 to finish second twice and earn $2, 335, 798 (19th). Finished with a second at the PGA Championship and fourth at the Barclays.

He has five finishes of 13th or better in his past seven tournaments.

Boo Weekley (0-0-0)

In only his second full year on tour, he won once (Verizon Heritage) and made more than $2-million.

Not much of a Ryder Cup historian because he doesn't watch golf on TV. The native of Milton, located in the Panhandle, would rather spend his time hunting or fishing.

Chad Campbell (0-0-0)

Failed to win for the first time in three years but did have six top 10s in 25 tournaments. , Azinger's final selection, Campbell said he is hitting the ball better than ever.

J.B. Holmes (0-0-0)

Like Perry, a Kentucky native, he won the FBR Open in February. His highest finish since June was a tie for 20th, and he has missed five cuts in his past 11 tournaments.

The UK alum knows Valhalla better than any other player. Length off the tee (310.9-yard average) was key to his selection.

Hunter Mahan (0-0-0)

Best finish was second at the Travelers Championship. He missed the cut in three of the four majors (T18 at U.S. Open).

Quoted this summer about Ryder Cup week: "You've got dinners every night, not little dinners, but huge, massive dinners. I know, as players, that's the last thing we want to do. We want to prepare ourselves. That's part of the whole thing; you're just a slave that week."

Steve Stricker (0-0-0)

While not as good as 2007, when he earned more than $4-million, he was still steady, making 15 of 21 cuts and earning $2, 317, 904 (20th).

Started 2006 without his playing card but almost made the '06 team and was the highest ranked captain's pick this year.

European team | Captain: Nick Faldo

Players (Ryder Cup record) 2008 season, Noteworthy

Sergio Garcia (14-4-2)

Earned $4, 102, 224 on the PGA Tour (seventh) and more than $1-million on the European tour. Won the Players Championship and was second at the PGA Championship.

The player Americans love to hate during the Ryder Cup, the Spaniard is 8-0 all time in foursomes.

Soren Hansen (0-0-0)

The Dane is not familiar to U.S. fans because he did not play on the PGA Tour. Had seven top-10 finishes in Europe.

Has represented Denmark six times in the World Cup.

Padraig Harrington (7-8-2)

A two-time major winner (British Open, PGA Championship) and one of the hottest players in either field. The Irishman is first on the European Order of Merit and fifth on the PGA Tour money list with $4, 313, 551. , Only the fourth player in Ryder Cup history to win two majors during a Ryder Cup year.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (2-5-2)

Won the Hong Kong Open to start 2008 and has been steady since. Also won the BMW Championship in Europe. Second on the Order of Merit.

The Spaniard has only missed one 18-hole match in his two previous Ryder Cups.

Robert Karlsson (0-1-2)

Five top-three finishes on the European tour and tied for seventh at the British Open. , Swede lost to Tiger Woods in his first Ryder match in 2006. That won't be the case this year, with knee surgery sidelining Woods.

Graeme McDowell (0-0-0)

Won twice in Europe, including the Scottish Open. He is fifth on the Order of Merit, his highest ranking.

He is from Northern Ireland, but he played college golf at Alabama-Birmingham.

Justin Rose (0-0-0)

Consistent his entire career. Made 10 of 15 cuts on the PGA Tour and tied for second at the Memorial. , Played in the Walker Cup at age 17 and has represented England three times in the World Cup.

Henrik Stenson (1-1-1)

Had five top-three finishes in Europe, including a tie for third at the British Open, and was tied for fourth at PGA Championship.

Swede holed the winning putt at the K Club in 2006 to clinch Europe's decisive victory.

Lee Westwood (14-8-3)

Third at the U.S. Open, second at the WGC- Bridgestone Open and 11th at the Masters. He is third on the Order of Merit.

Brit has 15½ career Ryder Cup points, tied with Sergio Garcia for most on the team.

Oliver Wilson (0-0-0)

A rookie in 2005, has climbed to eighth on the Order of Merit thanks to four second-place finishes on the European tour. Last automatic selection after finishing tied for 10th at the Johnnie Walker Championship.

The Brit is the first European player to make the Ryder Cup team without a single victory.

Paul Casey (3-1-2)

The Brit hasn't won on the PGA Tour, but he has won eight times on the European tour. Made the cut in all four majors.

Casey was unbeaten at the 2006 Ryder Cup, a fact Faldo used in selecting him.

Ian Poulter (1-1-0)

One of the last picks by Faldo, based mostly on his second-place finish at the British Open. Had seven top25s in 15 PGA tournaments, but aside from the British, finished no higher than ninth in 15 European events.

The Englishman split time between the PGA and European tours, and he was a controversial pick. Some thought Faldo should have selected Colin Montgomerie.

.Fast facts

37th Ryder Cup

When/where: Friday-Sunday; Louisville, Ky.

Course: Valhalla Golf Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus, who recently refurbished the private club that is owned by the PGA of America.

Format: Four matches of four ball (better ball) and foursomes (alternate shot) Friday and Saturday, then 12 singles matches Sunday.

TV: 3 p.m. today, opening ceremonies, ESPN; 8 a.m. Friday, ESPN; 8 a.m. Saturday, Ch. 8; noon Sunday, Ch. 8, and closing ceremonies, 6 p.m., ESPN

Points: Europe needs 14 to retain the cup. The United States needs 14½ to win it.

Series: United States leads 24-10-2.

Last time: Led by Darren Clarke, competing for the first time since his wife died of cancer, Europe won all five sessions and matched its record for margin of victory, 18½-9½, at the K Club in Ireland for its third straight outright victory. Clarke went 3-0, and the other captain's pick, Lee Westwood, was 3-0-2.

37th Ryder Cup primer 09/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 5:22pm]

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