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Profiles of the 2006 European Ryder Cup team

By Staff

Ryder Cup LogoProfiles of the 2006 European Ryder Cup team

Having won four of the last five Ryder Cups, Team Europe, led by skipper Ian Woosnam, goes into this year's edition as the favorite for the first time in recent memory. Its bench is deeper and more experienced than the U.S. team's. Here's the lineup:

Darren Clarke

Nationality: Northern Ireland
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 4
Best 2006 performances: Finished third at the Bay Hill Invitational and the Nissan Irish Open; tied for fifth at the Barclays Scottish Open
Fast facts: Clarke has hardly played since his wife, Heather, died of cancer in August, but he has repeatedly said he'll be ready to compete at the K Club. His recent bereavement is one of the reasons this year's event is expected to be one of the most emotionally charged in Ryder Cup history.

Paul Casey

Age: 29
Nationality: England
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 1
Best 2006 performances: Won the Volvo China Open and the Johnnie Walker Championship; finished second at the Nissan Irish Open
Fast facts: Casey, who turned pro in 2000, is having the best year of his career, winning two events and at one point posting four straight top-5 finishes.

Luke Donald

Age: 28
Nationality: England
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 1
Best 2006 performances: Won the Honda Classic; finished second at the Barclays Scottish Open and third at the PGA Championship
Fast facts: Donald won his first PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic in March. Coming off a strong performance at the PGA Championship, he is expected to be a factor in Ireland.

Sergio Garcia

Age: 26
Nationality: Spain
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 3
Best 2006 performances: Finished third at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the PGA Championship; tied for fifth at the British Open
Fast facts: A pro since 1999, Garcia has racked up a few top-10 finishes this year, but his most impressive feat was matching the course record at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club with a 65 in the third round at the British Open. He helped lead team Europe to a record-breaking Ryder Cup victory at Oakland Hills in 2004.

Padraig Harrington

Age: 35
Nationality: Ireland
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 3
Best 2006 performances: Finished second at the Open de France ALSTOM and the Booz Allen Classic; finished fifth at the U.S. Open Championship
Fast facts: Irishman Harrington is sure to get a lot of fan support at the K Club. He turned pro in 1995 and has two Tour wins to his name.


David Howell

Age: 31
Nationality: England
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 1
Best 2006 performances: Won the HSBC Champions tournament and the BMW Championship
Fast facts: Howell started the 2006 season strong, outshooting Tiger Woods on the final day of the HSBC Champions to win the event at the start of the 2006 season.

Robert Karlsson

Age: 37
Nationality: Sweden
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: none
Best 2006 performances: Won the Celtic Manor Wales Open and the Deutsche Bank Players' Championship of Europe; finished second at the EnterCard Scandinavian Masters Fast fact: Karlsson turned pro in 1989. He broke the European Tour 36- and 54-hole scoring records en route to winning this year's Celtic Manor Wales Open. At 6-foot-5 he is one of the tallest golfers on the European Tour.

Paul McGinley

Age: 39
Nationality: Ireland
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 2
Best 2006 performances: Tied for fourth at the Smurfit Kappa European Open; tied for ninth at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters
Fast facts: A veteran of two winning Ryder Cup teams, McGinley knows what it takes to compete in golf's most prestigious team event. He has also proven himself in tournament play, winning the Volvo Masters at Valderrama in 2005.

Colin Montgomerie

Age: 43
Nationality: Scotland
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 7
Best 2006 performances: Won the USB Hong Kong Open; tied for second at the U.S. Open; tied for third at the BMW Asian Open
Fast facts: Montgomerie turned pro in 1987 and is the most experienced player on either squad. He has been a member of four Ryder Cup-winning teams and is certain to be a leader for team Europe this week.

Jose Maria Olazabal

Age: 40
Nationality: Spain
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 6
Best 2006 performances:Tied for second at the Buick Invitational and the BellSouthClassic; tied for third at the Masters
Fast facts: A two-time Masters champion, Olazabal nearly won his third this year. He has five PGA Tour victories and among players on both squads is second only to Montgomerie in Ryder Cup experience.

Henrik Stenson

Age: 30
Nationality: Sweden
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: none
Best 2006 performances: Won the Commercialbank Qatar Masters; finished second at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the BMW Asian Open
Fast facts: Stenson turned pro in 1998 and began making himself known as a presence on the international golf scene last year. He's followed it up with strong play this year, winning one event and finishing second in two others.

Lee Westwood

Age: 33
Nationality: England
Previous Ryder Cup appearances: 4
Best 2006 performances: Tied for second at the Deutsche Bank Players' Championship of Europe; tied for fourth at the Smurfit Kappa European Open Fast facts: A pro since 1993, Westwood is one of only six European players to go unbeaten in all five matches of a Ryder Cup, posting a 4-0-1 record in 2004 and stroking the putt that guaranteed Europe would retain the cup.

 
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