“This thing isn’t over. I’ve seen bigger deficits,” Stewart Cink said in his post-match interview. He was referring to the ’99 matches at Brookline, where the US came back from a 6-10 deficit to win the Cup after a dominating performance by the Americans in the singles matches. The US team will try to conjure some of that magic on Monday. (But hopefully Tom Lehman — this time as a vice-captain — won’t stampede the green if an American makes a big putt before a European, say Jose Maria Olazabal, putts out.) Here’s the line-up (with the Americans listed first and the Europeans second — and all times EDT).
4:05 a.m. – Steve Stricker vs. Lee Westwood
4:17 a.m. – Stewart Cink vs. Rory McIlroy
4:29 a.m. – Jim Furyk vs. Luke Donald
4:41 a.m. – Dustin Johnson vs. Martin Kaymer
4:53 a.m. – Matt Kuchar vs. Ian Poulter
5:05 a.m. – Jeff Overton vs. Ross Fisher
5:17 a.m. – Bubba Watson vs. Miguel Angel Jimenez
5:29 a.m. – Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari
5:41 a.m. – Rickie Fowler vs. Edoardo Molinari
5:53 a.m. – Phil Mickelson vs. Peter Hanson
6:05 a.m. – Zach Johnson vs. Padraig Harrington
6:17 a.m. – Hunter Mahan vs. Graeme McDowell
Westwood and Stricker lead off the day, each hoping to set the tone for the rest of the team. Both are arguably the best players on their respective sides. Westwood is hands-down the MVP so far, and — I’m going to take a huge leap and say it — the best player in the world (and also the best without a major). Stewart Cink, who along with Matt Kuchar haven’t lost a match (1-0-2), will bat second against Rory McIlroy. I know, I’m disappointed we’re not getting a Tiger vs. McIlroy duel, too. Oh, look what we have here, DJ and Kaymer play each other in the fourth match. This will be DJ’s closest thing to a redo for the playoff he missed at Whistling Straits because of BunkerGate.
Matt Kuchar will probably just smile when he faces the pugnacious Poulter whose eyes may or may not pop out because of his intensity. Tiger and Francesco Molinari might not be so pretty, as both of them are struggling — notwithstanding the final hole in the third session for Molinari. Here’s an interesting fact: Tiger’s only loss in singles matches at the Ryder Cup was to an Italian — Costanino Rocca. Meanwhile, the other Molinari, Edoardo, will face Fowler in what should be an entertaining battle between two rookies.
Not much to say about Mickelson vs. Hanson, except great draw for Phil, who might have a chance to break his losing streak. Zach Johnson will battle fellow grinder Padraig Harrington. So far, Johnson has had more success than the struggling Irishman. And finally, the captains have Mahan and McDowell in the last match, which means Pavin and Monty have faith that these two can withstand the pressure if it comes down to it. Interesting why Pavin didn’t even start Mahan and give him the chance to play all the matches considering his great record at Valhalla two years ago. Anyhow, it should be an exciting one.
Your predictions for the matches? And does the US have a chance? Well, of course they do, but how do you feel about the odds?
As Wall Street Journal colleague JP Newport wrote, “But the kind of historic comeback the Americans will have to mount Monday if they want to keep the trophy requires something beyond controlled emotion. Maybe Mr. Pavin brought a “break glass only in emergencies” weapon with him to Wales. A General George Patton imitator, perhaps? Both of the former presidents Bushes, plus Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Even that might not be enough.”
[Photo by Matt Dunham/AP]