The Grand Comeback of Gleneagles? That’s what the USA will need after a foursomes drubbing to retain the Ryder Cup with Europe just 4 points away, and even less of that most overused of words – momentum – going into the last day’s singles. The draw too looks to have been unkind, with three of the first five favourites playing for blue, and while nothing should be discounted, a turnaround would be a shock of maybe even bigger proportions than Medinah given what we’ve seen during the week.
McDowell (6/5) v Speith (5/4)
Jordan Speith has shown all of the reasons as to why he’s tipped for major glory this week. He has driven well, approached beautifully, and with partner in crime Patrick Reed, held nerves of steel in the team format. However in Graeme McDowell he must cross an experience gap that dwarfs his, and also face a man on a confidence high after a strong season and exceptional team play with Victor Dubisssion this week. The Northern Irishman is a former World Matchplay Champion to boot, and thrives in tough situations, so would be the pick, but there look to be safer opportunities.
Verdict: McDowell 2&1
Stenson (10/11) v Reed (13/8)
Patrick Reed is one of the two rookies to have shone this week, and he deserves great credit for his performance, but he faces a tall task against Henrik Stenson. Stenson has quietly performed when asked to, and while Justin Rose played first fiddle yesterday, the Swede is 3-3, which shows just how high a standard he sets, and he can make it 4-4.
Advice: 3 pts Stenson (10/11 general)
McIlroy (5/6) v Fowler (7/4)
This should be a ferocious matchup. Fowler and Rory have already clashed in two majors, with Fowler pushing Rory much closer at the USPGA than at the Open, but there has only been one man in form this week and McIlroy is the clear choice on form. Fowler looked mentally and physically fatigued yesterday afternoon after playing a full set of matches and yesterday a succession of missed puts allowed Kaymer and Bjorn to take a half point. McIlroy finished strongly yesterday to take a half from his foursomes match that is likely to prove the difference should things get tight today, and his approach play began to math his driving later on. That spells trouble for Rickie.
Advice: 2 pts McIlroy (5/6 general)
Rose (4/5) v Mahan (7/4)
In a week where many were looking to Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose has been the star man from both teams and probably the reason why Europe are in such a dominant position. His turnaround with Henrik Stenson – a 10 birdie finish – turned a 2 hole deficit into a 3&2 win that eventually proved to be the springboard for Europe’s dominant afternoon. His opponent Hunter Mahan, a fine matchplayer, has been one of the best US players this season, having also faced two of Europe’s star partnerships this week – making a record of 1 from 3 not look like such a disaster.
Gallagher (15/8) v Mickleson (5/6)
This is one to avoid. Gallagher was out of his depth on Friday and got no golf while Mickleson, for all that he is the best scrambler in the game, has still not found the putting lengths that are so crucial here.
Advice: No view.
Kaymer (6/5) v Waston (5/4)
This has not been the week for Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer should smell blood. The German has not been outstanding this weekend but Bubba’s power has not proven to be the difference and the German’s superior putting on the greens can help him to a win here, along with a better mental state of mind after Reed’s implosion yesterday; Watson’s struggles outside the US have been evident before.
Advice: 2 pts Kaymer (6/5 Paddy Power)
Bjorn (6/4) v Kuchar (10/11)
Matt Kuchar looks a vulnerable favourite against Thomas Bjorn. Kuchar’s points record of 0-3 is misleading, because of the poor performance of Zach Johnson in the afternoon and the record breaking performance of Rose and Stenson; But Bjorn has played at least as well to help take a half against Folwer and Walker yesterday, and is playing a man who has the same strengths as him – touch and scrambling.
Advice: 1 pt Bjorn (6/4 general)
Garcia (10/11) v Furyk (11/8)
This is one of the more tightly matched games, crucial considering that it could well be the last competitive match of the cup in play (Europe needing just 4 points, and having three favourites). Garcia’s game has been magical all year and mainly on point, and the same can be said of Gentleman Jim, who boasts the same skills and does have a better singles record. This is best left.
Poulter (10/11) v Simpson (17/10)
Mr Ryder Cup came into the event with some form questions and then started badly on Friday to boot but confidence is everything and his sensational shot making and putting on Saturday was a big part in Europe’s afternoon romp. He would make appeal anyway, but Webb Simpson has been off key and lifeless in all of his golf this week; This should go one way.
Advice: 4 pts Poulter (10/11 general)
Bradley (5/6) v Donaldson (11/8)
Jamie Donaldson has had a tremendous Ryder Cup debut, holding his nerve to land a succession of excellent putts in yesterday’s foursomes to make it 2 points from a possible three. He has been given a tremendous task in trying to take down Keegan Bradley, who has played just the two matches and played well considering Dubission’s excellence. Bradley’s Ryder Cup experience – he is the American Poulter – will make this extremely hard and the tiger will be raring to go, so this is best left.
Advice: Bradley 2&1.
Westwood (13/10) v Walker (6/5)
Hard to call as the Cup could be over by then – it will be according to bookmakers – but Westwood has to be the choice as walker looked extremely tired and then injured on Saturday. Westwood’s Ryder Cup record speaks for itself and he has 2 points from three, so if pushed he would be quite a strong selection.
Advice: Westwood 4&3
Dubission (10/11) v Johnson (17/10)
Seeing Victor Dubisson blossom this year has been a fine spectacle, but seeing him take the Ryder Cup by storm. His approach play to set up partner Graeme McDowell was phenomenal on both days, and his Matchplay credentials cannot be called into question, as he is a runner up in the World Matchplay Championship. He should be well upto winning this match against the out of touch Zach Johnson – if it counts.
Advice: Dubisson 5&4