South African Louis Oosthuizen may have won the Open Championship on Sunday, but a look at the overall leaderboard shows Europe have plenty to cheer about ahead of their Ryder Cup match with the USA in October.
Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, certs to be part of the European squad, finished second and tied-third respectively, while Paul Casey – likely to make it through as captain’s pick if not automatically – shared third place also.
The best USA golfer already assured of a Ryder Cup spot was Dustin Johnson, who came tied-14th on four under par.
All this gives justification to Europe’s 4/6 favourite tag for the event, which takes place over October 1st, 2nd and 3rd at Wales’ Celtic Manor course.
USA are 6/4 to retain the crown they claimed at Valhalla Golf Club in 2008 by a five-point winning margin.
The positive news for Colin Montgomerie’s team gets better the deeper the Open results are analysed.
Of the 26 players at three under or better 13 were European, compared to eight from the States, with no American showing in the top six.
Europe’s 12-man team will be made up of the four highest ranked players on a world points list (based on PGA Tour results), the five best-scoring golfers on a European points list (based on European Tour results) and three of the captain’s wildcard choices.
USA have just one world list to automatically chose eight players from, along with four picks from skipper Corey Pavin.
Graeme McDowell, who finished tied-23rd at St Andrews, and Ian Poulter, who made the cut, join Westwood and McIlroy as being the top four golfers on both of Europe’s lists.
Other likely players Martin Kaymer (tied-seventh), Luke Donald (tied-14th) and Miguel Angel Jiminez (tied-27th) all did well too.
America’s best four players on their Ryder Cup list didn’t fare so well. Phil Mickelson came tied-48th, Steve Striker tied-55th, while Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim both missed the cut.
Even Tiger Woods faded to tied-23rd, suggesting that Europe, who have won five out of the last seven Ryder Cups, look a great bet come October.