Europe’s three point winning margain at the Belfry was the biggest Ryder cup victory since1985. McGinley’s final 12-ft putt meant Azinger and Furyk’s bunker heroics were worthless ? bad luck fellas. Now can we make it four out of five or will the Americans take back the trophy on home turf?

The Course

The South Course at Oakland Hills, known as the ?monster? has played host to a number of US Majors. And with an impressive roll call of past winners including Hogan, Nicklaus and Palmer ? it will surely provide the perfect setting for the big boys to strut their stuff. The best hole is pobably the last – a long 494 yard par 4 makes closing out a match at Oakland Hills particularly tough. The green is wide and heavily bunkered so a long straight drive will need a deadly accurate long iron before the big boys can even think about signing off with a par or birdie.

The Teams

Tiger Woods will certainly be keen to impress. His period as the world’s best player, now just a fading memeory and a dismal record of six points from a possible fifteen and only one win in the singles is something the big man won’t be proud of. The problem appears to be gelling with his team mates -there’s no I in team as Motty might say, but there is an I in Tiger.

And there are a few unfamiliar faces in the US Team – Chris Riley, Fred Funk and Jay Haas are PGA Tour journeymen now elevated onto a grander scale. They’ll need to hold their nerve with the pressure home expectation on their shoulders.

For our boys, team spirit is key. Like Charlton Athletic there?s multitude of solid internationals but no real star (with the exception of maybe Garcia). As individuals they might not be the most exciting but as a team they?re usually rock solid. Their big problem, like Charlton’s, is that they only seem to be able to perform for two thirds of the competition. Since 1985 the Europeans have only beaten their American rivals three times on the final day. So the onus is on coming out of the blocks fast.

Our man to watch has to be Lee Westwood. The man form Worksop has had a real resurgence in the past two years. Overshadowed by his friend Darren Clarke in recent times, Westwood is playing as well as anyone at the moment. In the 2002 Ryder Cup it was his successful partnership with Sergio Garcia that kick started a return to form. With the eyes of the world on him, Westwood will be keen to impress.

The Crowd

As everyone knows the US crowds are easily excited especially when it comes to the Ryder Cup. Oakland Hills will be a noisy affair and if the Europeans want to succeed they’ll need to block out the crowd, especially Monty who can expect the usual jibes.

The Ryder Cup will be the ?must see? golf event of the year, even more than the Majors. All we can hope for is a match played in the spirit of the game. That and a good yank spanking!

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