When confronted with statistics that indicated a negative past performance, Forrest Gregg liked to deliver this line back when he coached the Green Bay Packers and I covered the team during my newspaper days: “History records the past. It does not predict the future.”
It’s a good line, and the truth, but digging into the old stats can still be a fun exercise. And here’s another famous (and often misquoted) line from the philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
With that thought in mind, here is a guide to historic Ryder Cup stats. Maybe somewhere in these numbers is a hint as to who has the edge this week.
Major titles: Europe 5, U.S. 23. (Europe: Two for Rory McIlroy and one each for Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell. U.S.: Fourteen for Tiger Woods, four for Phil Mickelson and one each for Keegan Bradley, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson.) Even without Tiger, the U.S. has a 9-5 edge. Without Tiger and Phil, it’s 5-5. Advantage: U.S.
Players who have won majors: Europe 4, U.S. 7. The only Americans without majors are Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker. Advantage: U.S.
Wins in 2012: Europe 14, United States 16. The only players with more than two are McIlroy (4) and Woods (3). Advantage: U.S.
Players with wins this year: Europe 9, United States 11. The only players pitching shutouts are Furyk, Kaymer, McDowell and Ian Poulter. Advantage: U.S.
Home field advantage: Since Europe joined the competition in1979, the host team has a 10-5-1 mark. Welcome to Chicago, gentlemen. Advantage: U.S.
Career victories: Europe 140, U.S. 150. Of course, Woods and Mickelson account for 114 wins between them. Lee Westwood leads the Europeans with 37 official wins. Advantage: U.S.
All-time score: The points total since the Ryder Cup began in 1927 is U.S. 489 1/2, Great Britain and Ireland/Europe 382 1/2. Unless the U.S. is blown out, the Americans should score the milestone 500th career point this week. Advantage: U.S.
Ryder Cup player records: Europe’s 12 players are a combined 60-32-18 in the Ryder Cup; the United States is 41-59-16. That’s not surprising since Europe has taken six of the last eight Cups. Advantage: Europe
Ryder Cup experience: Europeans have played in 110 matches; the U.S. 116. Talk about top heavy -- the three aging American warhorses of Furyk, Mickelson and Woods have combined to play 90 of those 116 matches. Advantage: U.S.
Players with winning Ryder Cup match records: Europe 8, United States 0. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Stricker and Zach Johnson (3-3-1 each) and Kuchar (1-1-2) are America’s best. Advantage: Europe
Fewest rookies: Europe 1, United States 4. Everybody has to be a rookie sometime. Advantage: Europe
All-time score, modern era: Since 1979, when the rest of Europe joined Great Britain and Ireland, the Europeans hold a 227-221 points lead, according to rydercup.com. Advantage: Europe
Best singles records: Since 1979, the U.S. leads 96 1/2–83 1/2. Advantage: U.S.
World ranking: The average world ranking of the European team’s 12 players is 18.92. For the U.S. lineup, it’s 12.17. The lowest-ranked American is Furyk at 23rd, while the Europeans have three players outside the top 30 -- Colsaerts (35), Kaymer (32) and Molinari (31). Advantage: U.S.
Most players ranked in world’s top 10: Europe 4 (McIlroy 1, Donald 3, Westwood 4, Rose 5); U.S. 5 (Woods 2, Watson 7, Simpson 8, Dufner 9, Snedeker 10). Advantage: U.S.
Average age: Europe 32.7, United States 34.6. McIlroy, at 23, skews the Euro average. Does youth matter? The Euros have three players in their 20s (McIlroy, Colsaerts, Kaymer) to the Americans’ two (Bradley, Dustin Johnson). Plus, the Americans have three 40-somethings in Furyk, Mickelson and Stricker, while the Euros have one -- 43-year-old Paul Lawrie. Advantage: Europe