The United States has the stronger team. No doubt about it. Johnny Miller says the Americans might have a four- or five-point edge this year. Whether that’s true or not, even diehard European fans know that Team USA is deeper, hotter and healthier than the visitors.
Even so, here are five reasons why the Europeans will win.
1: It’s a mindset
When good things happen to the Americans, like jumping out to an early lead, the Europeans won’t worry because they know their U.S. opponents will hand them a few points on a silver platter. The rest they can make up with a holed putt or two. But when the U.S. falls a point behind or loses a close match, the mindset will be: “Oh, no, here we go again.”
2: You can’t focus on results
Ask any of the 10 major champions in this Ryder Cup if they told themselves and others that they had to win before hitting the first shot. Every one of them will look at you like you have two heads. Even though they were playing against upward of 155 of the best in the game in the toughest of conditions, major winners focused on their preparation, their routine and on executing each shot that was in front of them. Getting ahead of yourself is the kiss of death in our game. That’s why the Americans’ obsessive focus on the final result of these matches could backfire.
3: Winning is a habit
The U.S. has two players who have been on winning Ryder Cup teams: Phil Mickelson and J.B. Holmes. Half of Europe’s team has experienced that winning feeling with a majority of those having enjoyed the spoils of victory more than once. When it gets close – and it will – men who can fall back on positive experiences have an edge.
4: Lopsided pressure
There has always been one thing a Ryder Cupper could count on when he got to the first tee: No matter how nervous he was, no matter how much pressure he felt, he knew that the guys he was playing against felt exactly the same way. That’s not the case this year. Whether it’s the hoopla surrounding the task force, the comments by Captain Love – “Best Ryder Cup team ever” – or the fact that every commentator with a keyboard is asking, “Is this finally going to be the time?” it’s easy to see how the Europeans will be able to point to their opponents and say, “I’m nervous but not as nervous as that guy.”
5: Underdogs have the advantage
They can freewheel and be looser than the favorites. They can play with chips on their shoulders and feed more freely off the energy of their fans. And they can mount pressure on their opponents by staying in matches that, on paper, they should lose.
Of course, the shots have to be struck and the putts holed. But if these matches begin to play out the way all but two have since Jordan Spieth was in diapers, don’t be surprised. Europeans have better than a fighting chance to taking the Ryder Cup back home with them, yet again.