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Can Team USA Win at Match Play?

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While watching the World Golf Championship Dell Technologies Match Play the last five days a question came to me. Were the U.S. players demonstrating the ability to win at match play?
It really has nothing to do with the eventual winner Kevin Kisner, the scrappy South Carolina native who was in the Match Play finals last year then overlooked by Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk for the 2018 team. I decided to analyze the results as an indicator of what we can expect from the likely members of Team USA.
In case you want a refresher, each of the 64-man field at Austin Country Club played the first three rounds against the other members of his group of four. The players with the best won-lost record then move on to the single elimination Round of 16. With players from 17 countries the international character of the field provides a good test of what the Americans could do against potential members of the Presidents Cup International Team and the Ryder Cup’s Team Europe.
The field was composed of the top 64 players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of March 18 except for Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott so Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira and Luke List from the U.S. filled in. The U.S. had the greatest number with 29 and England was second with 10.
Since 45% of the field was American and to keep the same proportion seven would be expected to advance to the Round of 16 however only four made through the round robin matches. This is not what Presidents Cup team captain Tiger Woods nor Ryder Cup team captain Steve Stricker wanted to see.
Two the four Americans making it out of the Round of 16 to the quarter finals lost so the semifinals were composed of two Americans, an Italian and a Dane both likely make Team Europe’s Ryder Cup squad. The two Americans advanced to the finals.
There’s always a danger trying to make too much of this kind of thing but the sports talk radio industry thrives on speculation, illogical emphasis and downright guessing so feel free to make of it what you want.
However, (there’s always a however) below are the results for U.S. players versus internationals and Europeans in the field, all potential members for the Presidents Cup International Team and Ryder Cup European Team respectively.
U.S. versus Internationals 7-9-2
U.S. versus Europeans 9-13-7
For what it’s worth based on these numbers the Americans and the Internationals are close to even, but the Europeans would beat up on our team by a margin approaching the seven points they whumped us in Paris last year.
Don’t know if I can go through watching another Ryder Cup like that. Of course, our guys may suddenly figure out how to hit the right shot at the right time and hole the critical putt when its needed.
Hope springs eternal.

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