Team of the decade: Ryder Cup Europe
Whether it be the Miracle of Medinah in 2012 or Europe’s domination at The 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, the past ten years have been enjoyable for Team Europe.
Winning four of the five Ryder Cups played, it’s fair to say Europe have been a dominant force in the biennial contest against the United States.
But who would make up the team of 12 from those who have featured in at least five matches over the decade, based on points percentage?
Here we bring you Europe’s team of the 2010s…
Tommy Fleetwood - 80% (4-1-0)
Tommy Fleetwood made his first Ryder Cup appearance in 2018, and what a debut it was. Paired alongside Francesco Molinari, the duo were unstoppable, winning all four of their matches together.
In the first fourball session the pair affectionately dubbed ‘Moliwood’ beat Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods 3&1 to pick up Europe’s only point of the morning. In that afternoon’s foursomes they then comfortably disposed of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 5&4. The following day once again saw emphatic victories for the European duo, beating Thomas and Spieth 5&4 and Woods and Bryson DeChambeau 5&4.
Although the Englishman lost his Sunday singles match against Tony Finau, he would go on to become only the second European rookie in Ryder Cup history to win four points from five matches.
Thomas Pieters – 80% (4-1-0)
In what was a tough Ryder Cup for Europe in 2016, Thomas Pieters justified his Captain’s pick with four victories in five matches – making him, at the time, the most successful European Ryder Cup rookie in history.
The Belgian lost his first match, as he and Lee Westwood were defeated by Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 5&4 in the opening foursomes session, but he would go on to form a formidable partnership with Rory McIlroy.
The pair defeated D. Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3&2 in the afternoon fourballs on day one, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson 4&2 in the foursomes on day two, and Brooks Koepka and D. Johnson 3&1 in the Saturday fourballs.
Pieters ended an outstanding debut performance with a 3&2 victory over J.B. Holmes, showing that he has the potential to thrive in the competition for years to come.
Ian Poulter – 67% (9-4-2)
Appearing four times across the decade, Ian Poulter has very much been a catalyst for Team Europe.
Having competed in four of the five Ryder Cup contests over the past ten years the man known as ‘The Postman’ has certainly delivered, taking points from 11 of the 15 matches he has played.
Poulter’s stand-out performance arguably came at Medinah in 2012 where he picked up four wins in four matches to help Europe retain The Ryder Cup in spectacular fashion.
Two down with six to play in the Saturday afternoon fourball matches, Poulter and McIlroy pulled off one of the most unlikely comebacks against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson to win by one hole.
Taut with emotion, the roar Poulter let out when he holed the winning putt has certainly gone down in Ryder Cup history – here’s to many more moments like that over the next decade.
Henrik Stenson – 67% (8-4-0)
An ever present since 2012, Henrik Stenson has been one of the top points scorers for Team Europe, winning eight of the 12 matches he has played.
His best total in one competition – three points – came in both 2014 and 2018, but it is the latter of those that is most impressive as he remained unbeaten in Paris when he won all three of the matches he played in.
A wildcard that year, he formed a strong partnership with Rose as they won both of their foursomes matches – the first coming against D. Johnson and Fowler, 3&2, and second against D. Johnson and Koepka, 2&1.
The Swede would then seal off his impressive week by cruising to a 5&4 victory over Bubba Watson.
Luke Donald – 63% (5-3-0)
Luke Donald appeared at both the 2010 and 2012 Ryder Cups during the decade and played a key role in both as Europe snatched both home and away.
The Englishman’s best points return came in 2010 at Celtic Manor, where he picked up three points from four matches – beating the likes of Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk in the process.
In 2012 Donald and Garcia’s Saturday afternoon fourball match against Woods and Stricker proved to be just as important as McIlroy and Poulter’s memorable contest too. Their win by one hole was imperative to keep morale high for the following pair, with the drama coming over the final two holes.
On the 17th hole, both Donald and Woods put their tee shots on the par three to within five feet. Woods sank his first, but Donald held his nerve to make sure Europe remained up by one heading down the final hole. Although Stricker put his approach inside ten feet on the last, he couldn’t hole out – giving Europe, and Donald and Garcia, a vital point.
Graeme McDowell – 59% (6-4-1)
It’s The 2010 Ryder Cup that will arguably live longest in the memory for Graeme McDowell – the Northern Irishman was charged with holing the winning putt at Celtic Manor, which he duly delivered.
The protagonist in Europe’s 2010 victory also shone in 2014, where he achieved his best points return by winning three out of three matches.
These came in two foursomes victories alongside France’s Victor Dubuisson – the first a 3&2 win over Keegan Bradley and Mickelson on day one, and then a 5&4 victory over Fowler and Jimmy Walker on day two. McDowell then topped this off with a 2&1 victory over Jordan Spieth to cap off a resounding triumph for Team Europe at Gleneagles.
Justin Rose – 58% (10-7-2)
Justin Rose has been an ever-present member of Team Europe since 2012 and it was arguably his appearance in that year that stands out from the rest. With Europe chasing the largest ever
comeback to win The Ryder Cup, Rose held his nerve and holed putts of ten, 35 and 12 feet on the final three holes to defeat Mickelson and see Europe dominate the first five singles matches.
Over the last ten years the Englishman has formed a strong bond with Stenson, particularly in 2014 event, where the pair won all three of the matches which they played together.
The partnership also flourished in Paris, where the pair won both of their foursomes matches together.
Sergio Garcia – 56% (8-6-3)
Ever since his introduction to the team contest back in 1999, Garcia has been a formidable force in The Ryder Cup.
Having played in nine of the last ten editions of competition, the Spaniard has been both a leader inside the dressing room and on the course for his continent.
Perhaps Garcia’s most impressive showing in a European jersey yet came in 2018, where despite an inconsistent year he fully justified his wildcard pick from Captain Thomas Bjørn by winning three of his four matches in Paris.
Even more impressive was the fact Garcia became Europe’s all-time leading points scorer with 26 – one better than Sir Nick Faldo. Even more remarkable is the fact it took the Spaniard five fewer matches (41) than Faldo (46) to reach this milestone.
Francesco Molinari – 55% (5-4-2)
Although Molinari may have holed the putt at Medinah to take half a point from Woods and win Europe The Ryder Cup, he truly wrote his name into Ryder Cup history in 2018, when he became at the first European player to win five matches from five.
Playing alongside Fleetwood, the duo won their four matches together convincingly before the Italian made it five in a row with his 4&2 victory over Phil Mickelson, which also saw Europe regain The Ryder Cup.
The Major winner was untouchable across the three days and will be looking to continue that hot streak in 2020.
Rory McIlroy – 54% (11-9-4)
Ever present in the team throughout the past ten years, it comes as no surprise that Rory McIlroy features in the best team of the decade.
Having played the most matches of any player in the last ten years with 24, McIlroy’s achievement of being unbeaten in 15 of those 24 matches is incredibly impressive.
He has been the centre piece of many European teams and it’s tough to pick out one key moment for the Northern Irishman. Whether it be almost missing his tee time in Medinah, incredible battles with Patrick Reed and convincing victories with numerous partners, McIlroy has provided so much entertainment.
And at just 30-years-old, it would come as no surprise if he made the team of the decade in ten years’ time too.
Martin Kaymer – 46% (5-6-3)
Although a part of four Ryder Cups this decade, Kaymer will surely be remembered for one putt.
During the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ in 2012 the German holed an unforgettable eight foot putt which saw Europe retain The Ryder Cup, before Molinari’s half point secured an historic victory.
Lee Westwood – 43% (6-8-1)
Rounding off the team of the decade is Lee Westwood. It was the 2010 playing of the event where Westwood arguably performed his best, collecting 2½ points from a possible four.
However he rose to the occasion much like most of the team in Medinah in 2012 too, when he took out Matt Kuchar in the Sunday singles 3&2.