Ryder Cup 2014: Sky Sports looks at how the teams will shape up for Gleneagles
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 24/09/13 1:14pm
Who will be lining up on the two teams at Gleneagles?
It's a year to go before the Ryder Cup comes around again in Gleneagles, and in addition to the majors, many golfers will be focusing all their attentions on making the two teams for the showdown in Scotland.
After Europe won last year with the 'Miracle of Medinah', the Americans will be desperate to get revenge, but with five of the last six matches going Europe's way it will be a tough task for the visitors from across the Atlantic.
Could Tom Watson be the big difference though? The last man to lead a successful American team in Europe is back as captain, and with a number of exciting young Americans emerging it may be tougher than many expect for the hosts.
Qualification has only just kicked off in Europe and, with players earning their places via European standings and a world points list, there could be some unfamiliar names in the nine automatic spots, while for the Americans all this year's major results count but full qualification on the PGA Tour begins in October.
Let's look at how the Ryder Cup teams are shaping up.
Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team celebrate at Medinah
New $10m man Henrik Stenson tops the embryonic world points list by a country mile, and if he can maintain anything like this summer's form he'll have no problems making a return to the team. The likes of Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer should make up half of the team. Graeme McDowell has three wins this year so should make it while Rory McIlroy may be struggling but could you really imagine a Europe team without him in it?
McGinley would love Ian Poulter to play well enough to qualify this time rather than use one of his captain's picks, although if all of the above make it that would leave just one more qualifying spot left.
Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie look most in danger from the 2012 team - although Lawrie would be considered for a pick given the conditions and being in his home of Scotland.
Paul McGinley looks forward to the Ryder Cup next year.
Italian Matteo Manassero is the most obvious after his PGA win at Wentworth, and he could well qualify given his form. Tommy Fleetwood won at Gleneagles this year and McGinley views course form highly, although the Englishman would need a strong year to convince he is ready.
Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen has climbed inside the world's top 50 and finished tied 6th at the Masters hits year, Chris Wood's name has been mentioned for some time while the likes of Danny Willett and Shane Lowry could easily make a run.
Nightmare scenario for McGinley is the likes of Donald, Poulter and/or a Kaymer not qualifying automatically, in which case you'd expect them to get the nod, but then there's the big decision on who else to make the team.
Lawrie could be an easy choice, with fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher even challenging if he has a decent year, and Paul Casey has shown signs of improvement. And what about the old timers? Thomas Bjorn is eighth on the current Race To Dubai and Miguel Angel Jimenez has mixed it up in the majors this year - he'd be a hugely popular selection.
Phil Mcikelson now has Scottish form in the book
PGA Tour qualifying starts in October, but 2013 majors count, and on the current list only Hunter Mahan out of the top nine were not in the Medinah team - so at this early stage it looks like the vast majority of those beaten in Chicago will be back on a revenge mission.
Phil Mickelson has a new love affair with golf in Scotland after his Scottish Open-Open Championship double, Tiger Woods has five wins in 2013 despite no major, while Jason Dunfer won his first major at the US PGA Championship and Steve Stricker has revelled in semi-retirement. Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley have had mixed form this year.
Tom Watson on Gleneagles
It's all about Jordan Spieth. The 20-year-old rookie exploded onto the scene with a first Tour win, his first major appearances and a remarkable second-placed finish at the Tour Championship shooting him up to World No 21. He's got a Presidents Cup spot to prove his matchplay credentials but he looks the real deal already.
Former No 1 amateur Peter Uihlein has been plying his trade in Europe and picked up his first win this year. He will know conditions well so could come under consideration after breaking into the top 100 in the world. His good friend Brooks Koepka is also one to watch but it could be too early for him - and don't forget Rickie Fowler!
A Dustin Johnson or Fowler would be top priorities if they just narrowly miss out on the top nine, if Bradley doesn't make it his partnership with Mickelson automatically gets him on the plane to Scotland - but you get the feeling Bubba or Simpson would need to qualify automatically.
Captain Watson has hinted he'd like to go for youth with his picks, making Spieth a prime candidate if he doesn't qualify, similar to Uihlein. Billy Horschel would be a great pick, as one of the most intense players on the Tour you can only imagine what he'd be like at a Ryder Cup - plus he was a Walker Cup winner in Northern Ireland so has matchplay experience.