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Ryder Cup: Europe looks good for the win

CAPE TOWN - The Ryder Cup has been contested 39 times since the inaugural event in 1927, and to simply say that the USA has dominated this competition is not to do justice to the 25 wins this team has achieved.

In fact the American dominance in this competition caused a revamp in the European team not once but twice. Initially the competition was between the USA and Great Britain but then Team GB grew to include Ireland and then again in 1979 the team grew one last time to include all players in Europe.

This seemed to deliver the right kind of competitiveness and finally Team USA were tested.

However, fast forward from those heady days and in the last ten Ryder Cups, the Stars and Stripes has only flown above the host clubhouse on the Sunday of the Ryder Cup three times!

There is no good reason why that unfortunate trend won't continue, except that this year at Gleneagles the European Team is looking more like an impregnable fortress than ever before. Three of the top 5 players in the world are European.

America's Jim Furyk is at number 4 and the fifth player is Australia's Adam Scott is at number 2.

World number one Rory McIlroy has taken over seamlessly but with similar efficiency from Tiger Woods and leads a European team filled with confidence and amazing results in 2014 - three of the 4 Majors "belong" to Team Europe as well as the unofficial "5th Major", The Players Championship.

However, when you're dealing with the world's top golfers in a team competition then anything can and normally does happen. Tell them it's the Ryder Cup and suddenly the blood flows that little bit faster, the grip tightens just a bit more, the smile at a missed putt becomes that much harder to force.

This competition delivers tension and surprise and passion and more fist pumps than at a Mike Tyson press conference. This competition is not impressed with world rankings and who won which Major or which Fedex Cup.

Former world number one Tiger Woods (injured and not part of this year's USA team) took on an unimpressed Francesco Molinari in 2012 who then proceeded to hold off Woods and secure the valuable half point that saw Team Europe win the Cup outright in one of the most amazing Ryder Cup fightbacks, now famously called the Miracle at Medinah.

Looking at the two teams a little more closely and it's clear that Team USA will look to Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk as their two form players to lead a slightly underdone USA team. Furyk in particular will be the hard man, the rock around which the team will build on any momentum they gain over the three days of competition.

Jordan Spieth is a fierce competitor for someone so young and I expect to see him step up in a team format tailormade for him. But by the same token I've got question marks over the inclusion of a rattled and clearly tired Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley who have both faded badly this year. The latter two were wildcard picks from Tom Watson who opted not to pick Fedex Cup winner Billy Horschel saying he "didn't deserve a Ryder Cup call-up" - will that decision come back to haunt him this Sunday?

Team Europe look strong and solid and have a happy medium of good form and experience…or do they?! Victor Dubuisson is a Ryder Cup green horn, but he has the look of a Mafia hitman, all quiet and smiling and polite, until he applies the coup de grace.

I'm not entirely convinced that Graeme McDowell is in his best form at present but he brings Ryder Cup experience into an environment that places a premium on that scarce commodity. Stephen Gallacher is the real question mark for me. Yes, he's had a great year on the face of it having moved from 66 to 34 in the world rankings, but in this high-pressure team competition I'm concerned that he will buckle.

This competition has a track-record of delivering upset results and its possible that could happen again this Sunday and Team USA could claim the win…it's possible but highly unlikely!

Jeremy Harris is the afternoon sports anchor at Kfm and Cape Talk and is the specialist golf correspondent for EWN Sport. He is a keen golfer and plays off a 6 at his home club, Arabella. He is the voice of the Sunshine Tour weekly highlights and monthly magazine programmes on Supersport.

You can follow him on twitter @jeremyharris55

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