Ryder Cup experts' picks

Normally, the weekly experts' picks on ESPN.com consist of Horse for the Course, Birdie Buster, Super Sleeper and Winner. Well, for this week's Ryder Cup, we go in a different direction because the format of the matches is so different than is seen each week on the PGA Tour.

Without further ado ...

Foursomes (alternate shot)

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The Europeans have the edge. For some reason, they are much better at recovering for one another, especially after bad tee shots. The U.S. squad tends to lose points when it misses fairways, whereas the European side finds a way to halve holes, if not win them, even when things go bad off the tee.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Alternate shot is the most difficult format of the matches. One guy in a pairing can play badly and cost his team a point. Here I give the Americans the edge because overall, each player of this team has been much sharper over the past month during the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: U.S. This has traditionally been America's stronger team format and the reason you typically see it first when the Ryder Cup is played in the United States. It is important for the Americans to again have the edge here.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: The Europeans have arguably the two best foursome players in history with Sergio Garcia (8-0-1) and Luke Donald (6-0-0). The question is, does captain Jose Maria Olazabal split his aces to try to win two matches or keep them together and likely nail down one nearly guaranteed point? Oh, and world No. 4 Lee Westwood isn't too shabby in the format with a 7-2-4 career record.

As for the Americans, the best thing we can say is: The players on this year's squad have nearly as many ties (9) as wins (12), but the 22 defeats in foursomes doesn't bode well. Alternate shot isn't a style of golf anyone really plays, but for some reason, the Europeans tend to dominate. Edge: Europe.

Four-Balls (best ball)

Michael Collins: It's a push (a halve for this week). This format is one of my main reasons that a blind draw is not the best way to determine matches. All the players coming into the week are playing well, meaning the only advantage could be had by putting matches together like Tiger Woods-Steve Stricker versus Rory McIlroy-Graeme McDowell. But because that isn't done, call this format a halve.

Farrell Evans: The Americans have a good range of players from bombers (Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods) to ball-control-consistency guys (Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson) that they should handle the Europeans in front of a home crowd. They have putters who can make the key saves as well as the guys who can string together many birdies.

Bob Harig: Europe. This is Europe's best event, and the conventional wisdom is that any perceived player deficiencies can be covered up by a stronger player. Now, there seems to be little weakness on either side, but look for the Europeans to prevail here with some strong teams.

Kevin Maguire: The Europeans might have the better team at the top with the likes of McIlroy, Donald and Westwood, but the Americans are more balanced from top to bottom with almost no holes on the squad. That will translate into more formidable pairings for Team USA and an edge in this format.


Michael Collins: The U.S. team has a BIG advantage, but it's going to be because of the Chicago home crowd. The fans here are very golf-savvy but can be as brutal and clever as the best New York crowds when it comes to insults and getting in a player's head. For that reason, the fans will be in a position to help the American players keep European guys down when they get down, or break guys' focus when they're up. This will be a tournament in which the fans actually are worth one full point to the American team.

Farrell Evans: Even though the Europeans have done very well in the category in recent years, earning 25½ of 48 potential points in the past four Cups, I give the edge this week to the U.S. team because for one, it is the deeper squad from top to bottom and also because it is playing on home soil. Yet the Americans were probably the stronger team on paper in '04 and '06 when the Europeans handled them easily in the singles. Both times the Europeans won the Cup.

Bob Harig: U.S. This has traditionally been U.S. territory and was even in defeat two years ago in Wales, when the Americans staged a strong comeback. In their past four victories in the event, the U.S. prevailed in singles, and it would seem that with the home advantage, this is a must in order to prevail.

Kevin Maguire: The Americans excel in singles -- and have for years. As long as the U.S. is within a couple of points heading into Sunday, it has a great chance to pull out the overall match. Unfortunately for fans of the red, white and blue, I don't expect that to happen.


Michael Collins: The Ryder Cup will spend the next two years here in the United States. The Americans will win by one point, and as I said earlier, the 13th man should get the credit for the victory. The matches will come down to the singles and will be decided by the second-to-last group. Also, the Powerball numbers for next week are as follows. ... Nah, I won't give those to you.

Farrell Evans: These matches will be much closer than the last time the Americans won in '08, when they beat the Europeans 16½-11½ in Valhalla. Tiger and Phil Mickelson should lead their team to a dramatic win over a tough European squad that features the best player in the world in McIlroy.

Bob Harig: U.S. Despite facing a formidable foe, the U.S. has one of its best teams, with 11 of 12 players having won this year and nobody ranked outside of the top 23 in the world. It is a deep team with many good options for captain Davis Love III. That's not to say it will be easy. The U.S. has a tough task but will prevail in a close match. Call it 14½-13½ ... as close as it can get short of a tie.

Kevin Maguire: Europe. As I said earlier this week, please don't write in to revoke my U.S. citizenship, but the Europeans will come away with the victory and keep the Cup on the other side of the Atlantic for at least two more years. I suspect that much like his mentor, Seve Ballesteros, captain Jose Maria Olazabal will have a few tricks up his sleeve.