Well, folks, this is it. Wayniac Nation’s golf expert Mike Dunton (@dartbus1521) brings you one last piece of the 2014 season. I can’t thank him enough for his efforts this golf season. He went from a guy who would write an article about golf to a bona fide expert, a guy my readers would taunt for his “crazy” picks that suddenly started to come to fruition. Without further ado, I give you Dunton’s swan song to 2014. We can’t wait for what you have in store for 2015.
It’s that time! The biennial golf tournament to which all of the world (well, at least Europe and the United States) pays attention. That’s right folks, it’s the Ryder Cup. The eyes of the golf world are focused on the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. The US team stands at 9:5 odds whereas the European team is the favorite at 1:2 to hoist the cup. So with that being said, let’s take a look at the way Wayniac Nation thinks Captain Tom Watson should set this team up in order to give the good ol’ US of A a fighting chance.
The format of the Ryder Cup is simple. Friday and Saturday each have two sessions. One is known as foursomes where teams of two alternate shots. The other is fourball or Better Ball in which the best individual score wins the hole for their respective team. 16 points are on the line when it is all said and done which leads to Sunday. On the last day, 12 singles matches are played for 28 total points. The US needs 15 points to win, while Europe only needs 14 to retain the cup. So without further ado, here is who I think Tom Watson should have paired together for Friday and Saturday.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson. I don’t care what team Captain Paul McGinley puts out for Europe, Watson needs to send this team out first to catch some early momentum. If Bradley and Mickelson can capture the magic from 2012 they are going to send shockwaves through Team USA. This team went 3-0 in 2012. A positive start by them will get the US off on the right foot.
Depending on if we start with Fourball or Foursomes (it is the home team Captian’s choice) Watson has some options. The one pairing that intrigues me the most that can pay off huge dividends over the course of the weekend is Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth. These are two fiery guys who may feed off of one another and have the guts to play shots that others may not. I think the two playing together will allow them to be themselves and not worry so much about other teammates. Just picture for a minute Bubba bombing a drive followed by Jordan hitting it within inches of the hole for an easy birdie. What a great threat this team could be. Do it Tom! Take the risk that could reward you greatly.
Since Phil is matched up with Keegan, who does his ol’ pal Rickie Fowler matchup with? Who needs Rickie’s energy the most? How about Jimmy Walker? Walker had a great season shooting to the top of everyone’s “Who the hell is this guy?” list. Throw in a Top 10 finish in the Fed Ex Cup Standings as well a Top 20 finish in the Official World Golf Rankings (19th which is up from 47th at the end of 2013) and you may have the hottest two American golfers of 2014. Pairing them up together is a tough point for Europe to take from the US.
That leaves Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson aka “Team Level-Headed.” These are two guys who rarely seem to get flustered, rarely show a ton of emotion and simply go out and play golf. They are a perfect pairing and a team that may just have the calm demeanor to take on the expected fiery team of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. You know the crowds over there will be fighting to watch Ian “Big Time Putter only at the Ryder Cup” Poulter do some more of his magic on the greens. Well he has to get to the greens first and this course is narrow with thick rough. I’m talking US Open rough, or at least rough that should be at US Opens (sorry Pinehurst). Furyk and Johnson are consistently two of the tours’ best drivers and that will go a long way this year. What Tom Watson needs is a team that he can throw out there and not really have to worry about coaching through some rough patches. This is that team. Furyk and Johnson seem to just go about their business no matter who is playing against them. This team can stare down the big time pressure of the Ryder Cup and come out the other side no worse for the wear.
I don’t really know what will happen when the captains sit down to make their pairings for the 12 Sunday singles match ups. I do know, however, that there are three that I am dying to see in the wee hours of Sunday morning here in the states.
Rickie Fowler vs. Rory McIlroy: If you follow golf at all you know why. I don’t need to spend a lot of time on this. Expect this matchup to be Sunday’s marquee matchup.
Phil Mickelson vs. Ian Poulter: The fiery Brit will have all kinds of support and spirit on Sunday. Phil, however, brings an extra layer of pressure to this. He is his generation’s Arnold Palmer and the crowds will swarm to watch Phil play. It may be the only crowd bigger than Fowler vs. McIlroy. Phil is used to that pressure, I’m not sure if Ian is and that may be an added advantage that Tom Watson can use.
Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia: Furyk needs to be the matador in order for the US to have a chance. For every major event Sergio has given away, he seems to take just as many points back at the Ryder Cup. This match could be the tipping point of the tournament if it is close going into Sunday. If that is the case, I want Jim in the ring with The Bull.
So who wins? Well, history tells you that the Europeans run away with it. The US team is calling themselves the Redeem Team after choking away the tournament in 2012. Looking at the two teams as a collective whole I am going with the Yanks. Europe has some very young players and first time Ryder Cup players. The pressure of this tournament is unlike anything else these guys experience. Countless numbers of former Ryder Cup players have said that this pressure is so much more than any felt at a major. Final score? It’s going to be close but I foresee a 15-13 US victory. Go get it boys!!