Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ryders on the Storm

Every two years, we are treated to what is in my opinion the greatest athletic spectacle in all of sports.  Some might argue that the World Cup or the Olympics surpass this, but in those events there is often a great disparity of talent.  Others might argue the Super Bowl or the World Series, but in those there is no pride for country involved.  In the Ryder Cup, you have players who play as individuals all season long coming together and playing for team and country.  Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and it is almost always a close and spirited match.  There is really no other game like golf, and there is really no other spectacle like the Ryder Cup.

This year the Ryder Cup returns to the United States at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.  Keeping with tradition, home Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III has been able to alter the course setup to his liking, and this year it will favor the bombers.  The rough has been cut way down to maximize distance, giving guys like Tiger, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Phil and Keegan Bradley some added distance over the relatively shorter, with the exception of Rory and Nicolas Colsaerts, Euros.  Suffice it to say there are going to be a lot of low scores out there this weekend.  As usual, it is anybody's game.  Let's take a look at each player on both squads.

USA

Jimmy Furyk: Furyk has been a lousy fourball (two guys from each squad play against each other in best ball match play) throughout his Ryder Cup career, but is a vet and should hold his own.  You can't not pick Jim Furyk for your team.

Tiger Woods: Tiger has a losing record overall in the Ryder Cup, but I like him to come back strong this year, especially on a course he has dominated throughout his career.  It would be great to see him paired up against Sergio Garcia for a throwback to Medinah in '99.

Bubba Watson: I'm a little worried about Bubba.  He hasn't been playing great golf lately, and is not a great putter overall.  He will be helped by the course conditions though.  

Keegan Bradley:  Keegan is made for this type of thing.  A fierce competitor with the ability to take opponents out of their game.  I expect big things for him.  RAT just shuddered at that picture.

Phil Mickelson: Apparently Phil is going to pair up with Keegan out there.  I like what that team brings to the table. 

Jason Dufner: Great demeanor for this.  Calm and steady.  If he gets nervous, he'll just throw in another bomber.

Brandt Snedeker: Another rookie I really like for Ryder Cups.  GREAT putter. 

Dustin Johnson: Another guy I worry about.  He wilts under pressure pretty easily, and isn't the greatest putter.  On the plus side, he can mash the ball though.  A Dustin and Bubba combination could win 9&8 one day, and lose 9&8 the next.

Zach Johnson:  Zach is another good putter that I am not worried about at all.  He will succeed this year.

Matt Kuchar: Kuchar was kind of MIA in the second half of the year.  Not sure what to expect from him.

Webb Simpson: Old Webb kind of comes off like a pussy, but I don't think he will back down an inch from these Europeans.  Solid game all around. 

Steve Stricker: Strick Daddy and Tiger are going to pick up where they left off and smoke fools this year. 


EUROPE

Rory McIlroy: Clearly playing the best golf in the world right now.  He and Graeme McDowell also make a nightmare team in group play.

Graeme McDowell: Not playing his best, but he is a stone cold killer on the greens.  A halved match is a win against whatever team he is on. 

Ian Poulter: What Graeme is to team play, Poulter is to singles.  Again, a halve is a win in a match against him. 

Lee Westwood: Historically a good Ryder Cupper, I think his best years are behind him.  I also miss fat Lee Westwood.

Segio Garcia: Undefeated in foursomes.  I was hoping he would never come back to the Ryder Cup.

Luke Donald: Another guy undefeated in foursome play.  I personally don't think he is that good of a player.  I also think he is crazy if he thinks the crowd is going to go easy on him because he resides in Chicago. 

Justin Rose: Another Ryder Cup resurgent.  He will make a good teammate with another limey, but won't play well in singles.

Francesco Molinari: Dave Rattner was the worst player on the 2010 squad, and doesn't have his brother there to protect him this time around. 

Nicolas Colsaerts: The Belgian Bomber is a long hitter, but hasn't played much on American soil.  I don't think he will be that great.

Paul Lawrie: Lawrie made his way into this by winning a bunch of European events.  He hasn't played in a Ryder Cup since 1999.  Don't expect much from him. 

Martin Kaymer: Former #1 in the world, former feared player.  The Machine has fallen way off in the last two years.  He did inspire me to buy a neckerchief though.

Peter Hanson: Speaking of wilting under pressure, the second this guy realized he had the Masters lead he went straight butt zone for the rest of the tournament.  He was also 1-2 in the 2010 Ryder Cup.  I could be thinking of his brother Soren Hansen though.


On paper, I think the U.S. has a lot better players.  The Ryder Cup is not played on paper though.  Europe will certainly play better in foursomes and fourball with their killer teams of McDowell/McIlroy and Westwood/Poulter and Rose/Donald.  However, I think the margin of defeat won't be as great as it has been in years past.  In singles play on Sunday, I think the United States shows their strength and takes the Cup.  U.S. wins 15.5 to 12.5 and brings the Ryder Cup back where it belongs on American soil.  Now everybody leave me alone for the next three days. 




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