Is this week's American team the greatest in Ryder Cup history? The data suggests it may be. Words and stats by Andy Swales...
"The average World Ranking of the 2021 Americans is a remarkable 8.92 - the lowest of the past 35 years. They can also boast to having more current top-10 players than any side since the birth of the Ranking system."
There have been some great Ryder Cup teams down the decades.
The American teams of 1975 and 1981 take some beating, and have constantly been lauded by members of the press as possibly the best two ever.
In 75 at Laurel Valley, Pennsylvania, the United States enjoyed the presence of Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Raymond Floyd, Billy Casper and Tom Weiskopf, as they clinched the trophy with a session to spare.
Six years later at Walton Heath in Surrey, Casper and Weiskopf may have departed the scene, but in came Tom Watson who was at the peak of his powers, with the Americans beating a European side that included three young future major winners - Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle.
Yet this year's US team is probably just as strong as either of these sides from four and five decades ago.
Certainly on paper, it appears to be the best Ryder Cup dozen since the World Ranking was introduced in 1986.
Latest odds for this week's Ryder Cup
The average World Ranking of the 2021 Americans is a remarkable 8.92 - the lowest of the past 35 years.
They can also boast to having more current top-10 players than any side since the birth of the Ranking system.
This year's figure is eight, as they head to Wisconsin to take on the Europeans who only have one member of the top-10 in their team.
Lowest 12 Ranking Team Averages (1986-2018):
8.92: USA (`21)
11.17: USA (`18)
11.83: USA (`99)
12.17: USA (`12)
14.33: USA (`89)
14.58: USA (`97)
16.33: USA (`16)
16.33: USA (`14)
17.33: USA (`10)
18.00: USA (`87)
18.25: Eur (`10)
18.67: USA (`04)
Most Top-10 Ranked Players (1986-2018):
8: USA (`21)
6: USA (`18)
5: USA (`12)
5: USA (`02)
5: USA (`99)
5: USA (`97)
5: Eur (`91)
5: USA (`89)
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Hope for Europe
However, there does seem to be some good news for the visitors, in that the American team they beat so convincingly in Paris three years ago was also packed with top-10 golfers and had a low overall ranking average.
One key stat, regarding the past 25 years of Ryder Cup action, is that nine of the last 11 matches have been won by the home team.
The exceptions to this trend were Europe's 'Miracle at Medinah' in 2012, as well as their victory under the captaincy of Bernhard Langer eight years earlier.
Top points scorer at 2021 Ryder Cup
Six of the Americans defeated in the French capital three years ago will tee-up again this week, determined to avenge that humbling loss.
And with the match taking place on home soil, the United States should certainly have an advantage when teeing-up this Friday.
Most Rookies (since 1983)
7: Europe (`99)
6: USA (`21 & `08); Europe (`16 & `10)
One interesting stat regarding the number of rookies teeing-up, is that it doesn't seem to matter too much if you are the home side.
But it becomes more of an issue for an away team packed with first time Ryder recruits.
Three times this 23-year-old coastal course has staged the PGA Championship, with victory going to non-Americans on each occasion: Vijay Singh (2004), Martin Kaymer (2010) and Jason Day (2015).
As many as 16 of those teeing-up in the Ryder Cup have competed at Whistling Straits in the past - with nine of these being from the European team.
However, of this group, only Rory McIlroy has posted a top-10 at the course, compared to Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka for the Americans.
Match play has always been a different animal to stroke play, but can the Europeans, with a considerable World Ranking deficit compared to the hosts, beat one of the great American Ryder Cup sides of all time?
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
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