The Best and Worst Captain’s Selections in Ryder Cup History

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Tiger Woods

Coming during a difficult time in Woods' career, his performance as a captain's pick in the 2010 Ryder Cup was an impressive one. It began with a pair of doubles victories with longtime teammate Steve Stricker and finished with a 4&3 drubbing of rookie Francesco Molinari in the Sunday singles.
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Woods’ victory moved Team USA closer to Team Europe, but their magical comeback fell short when Graeme McDowell beat Hunter Mahan 3&1.
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Webb Simpson

The final U.S. captain's pick of 2014 went to Webb Simpson (after, according to Tom Watson, a brief text message exchange the night before the selection). Simpson played just twice, in Friday fourballs and Sunday singles, and didn't win either.
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He didn’t finish with a victory in singles, either, but his start grabbed three points for Team Europe who won, coincidentally, by three.
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Ian Poulter

Poulter may have been the most obvious captain's pick ever in 2014, largely because he's been a phenomenal captain's pick before, most notably in 2012 when he went undefeated, winning four matches throughout the weekend at Medinah. It was Poulter's victory over Webb Simpson that equalized the Cup standings between Europe and America on a fateful Sunday for Team USA.
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From there, the Euros took control and won their second straight Cup. Poulter just might be the most feared man in Ryder Cup history.
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Keegan Bradley

He wasn't a captain's pick in 2012, but the dream team of Bradley and Phil Mickelson (3-0-0) definitely played in Bradley's favor for a nod in 2014.
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@Keegan_Bradley: #duffdaddyyyyyy
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Lee Westwood

Darren Clarke deserves plenty of love as a successful captain's pick in 2006, but Ian Woosnam's other pick—Westwood—would prove him a genius captain again. Westwood won a pair of those matches with Clarke, but also won his singles match and halved the other two matches.
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He completed a clean slate throughout five 2006 matches, an incredible feat throughout the history of the Cup. Westwood was also a pick in 2014, with a more modest 2-2-0 in Gleneagles.
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Steve Stricker

The then-45-year-old just barely missed being an automatic qualifier, so he seemed like a smart choice for captain Davis Love III. He also seemed to be the perfect pair for the oft-erratic Tiger Woods. Things didn't go as planned. He went 0-4 as more than half of the players on Team Europe took down Stricker in a match. The iconic photo of Martin Kaymer's Cup clinching putt is widely recognized around the golf world, but what was lost in the commotion of Kaymer's famous shot was Stricker in the background, with his head hanging low.
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Colin Montgomerie

Like past European teams, successful pairs have lead the Euros to big victories. Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington were that team to start the 2004 Ryder Cup. The started by taking down the electric pair of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods and beat Davis Love III and Fred Funk later that day.
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Monty's final victory—in singles over David Toms—put the Cup out of reach in a European blowout victory, 18.5-9.5.
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Curtis Strange

In 1995, Team USA fielded a solid squad and all signs pointed toward a third-straight victory for the Americans as Augusta stalwart Fred Couples was the other captain's pick. Only one of the two picks performed. Couples went 2-1-1 while Strange failed to record a point, losing all three matches.
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Worse yet, Team USA lost control of its Sunday lead during a stretch of four consecutive lost matches, of which Strange was one of them.
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Raymond Floyd

Floyd's final go-round as a member of Team USA started out unfortunately. He and Fred Couples were walloped in the Friday morning foursomes 4&3 by Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie. From there onward, Floyd took care of business, though.
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He won each of his final three matches as Team USA came back from a three-point Friday deficit to win 15-13, retaining the cup for another two years.
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Bernhard Langer

The 2004 European captain might not have been chosen for the job if he had played any worse in 1989. Langer lost every match he played in, but not only did he lose, he didn't finish a single one, losing 2&1 twice and 3&2 once. If he had played—and lost— another match that week, the European squad wouldn't have tied Team USA 14-14 to retain the Cup.
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Certainly a 2014 captain’s pick seemed possible for the 57-year-old Langer, but if he didn’t perform any better than ’89, captain Paul McGinley would be on the chopping block.
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Sandy Lyle

Although Lyle lost to Tom Kite in his Sunday singles match, Team Europe would not have been in position to win the '87 Cup without him. It was the combination of Lyle and Langer that went undefeated throughout the doubles matches of Friday and Saturday, compiling three points for the European squad that won by just two.
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Nick Faldo

Sir Nick was a captain's pick on four separate occasions, most of which all came after his debut as a wild card pick in 1985. Team Europe's best strategy that year was to keep Faldo sidelined. The Englishman lost 3&2 and 3&1 in the only two matches he competed in. Despite Faldo's losing record in the event, Team Europe triumphed for the first time in 28 years. Faldo would perform better as a captain's pick in his three additional Ryder Cups, but never held a winning record as a wild card selection.
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Faldo would perform better as a captain’s pick in his three additional Ryder Cups, but never held a winning record as a wild card selection.
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Darren Clarke

Clarke proved to be a brilliant captain's pick by 2006 captain Ian Woosnam. The Northern Irishman triumphed in both his doubles matches as Team Europe opened up another controlling lead. His Sunday performance—a 3&2 victory over Zach Johnson— was the first of five-consecutive European match victories.
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The Euros won their third-straight Ryder Cup in dominating fashion 18.5-9.5.
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Luke Donald

Part of the Reason why Team Europe built such a large lead during the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor was Donald as Colin Montgomerie's captain's pick. Donald lost his first match when paired with Padraig Harrington, but went on to win his final three matches during the European victory.
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Donald lost a bit of his once-great form during the 2014 season and was the notable snub kept off the squad by captain Paul McGinley.
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Hunter Mahan

Like Holmes, Mahan was one of six Ryder Cup rookies on that 2008 American squad. Mahan stands out on this last as one of the few great picks to only win two matches, but he competed in five matches throughout the event and didn't lose a single one, going 2-0-3 during the weekend.
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Mahan's 1-2-1 record at the 2014 edition was neither spectacular nor a total disappointment. His golf game has struggled since, so it's highly unlikely we see him in 2016.
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J.B. Holmes

Holmes was the local favorite at the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla near Louisville, Ken. and played like he deserved an automatic spot.
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Though he only contributed two victories, they both came during the final two rounds of play and helped that unsung 2008 American team pull off one of the greater upsets in Ryder Cup history.
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Peter Oosterhuis

Oosterhuis played in an astounding six-consecutive Ryder Cups for Team Europe, his last being in 1981, which is possibly how he'll be remembered by some Europeans. All went well for him until that 1981 event, where he went winless in three matches as Team USA demolished their European counterparts 18.5-9.5, the worst differential in more than 30 years.
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Scott Verplank

Although the American team likely hit a low point during that 2006 Cup, getting doubled up for a second straight time, captain's pick Scott Verplank was a long bright light from the United States squad. Verplank won both his lone doubles match and his singles match. There just wasn't enough from his teammates as Team USA only won six matches throughout the weekend.