Ryan O'Sullivan

Road to the Ryder Cup

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Ryder Cup Preview

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


 

Team Europe

 

Nicolas Colsaerts ... The lone rookie on the European squad averages 318 yards off the tee, making him one of, if not the longest player at Medinah. On a course with a likely set up to reward length, expect him to be a factor. The natural fit for him is the four-ball, but he could provide some of the shorter European hitters a boost in the foursomes as well. Possible partners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari. Predicted record: 1-1-1

 

Luke Donald ... The Englishman makes his fourth Ryder Cup appearance and boasts an 8-2-1 record. He’s 2-1-0 in singles, a perfect 6-0-0 in foursomes and 0-1-1 in four-ball. Of note, he’s 4-0-0 when partnering with Sergio Garcia in foursomes, so put that pairing down in pen. If Donald plays four-ball, it would be just once. His form is excellent, coming off a tie for third at the TOUR Championship, so he'll be relied upon for the Euros. Likely partner is Sergio Garcia, with other possibilities to include Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. Predicted record: 2-1-1

 

Sergio Garcia ... We hit on him in the Donald profile, so expect the duo to be a stalwart in foursomes. Though 14-6-4 overall, Garcia is a surprisingly weak 1-4-0 in the singles. He’s 8-0-1 in foursomes and 5-2-3 in four-ball, so expect him to play at least four times, and maybe all five. We know he fits Medinah, as he almost bested Tiger Woods for the 1999 PGA Championship as a teenager. Other than Donald, partners could include Lee Westwood, Nicolas Colsaerts, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. Predicted record: 2-1-1

 

Peter Hanson ... Playing in his second Ryder Cup, went 1-2-0 at Celtic Manor partnering exclusively with Miguel Angel Jiménez. His win came in the four-ball, with a loss in foursomes and in singles to Phil Mickelson. It’s likely we will see Hanson three times, but his length could earn him a fourth tee time if he plays well early. With Jiménez absent from the 2012 squad, he will have a new partner. Possible options are Nicolas Colsaerts, Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari. Predicted record 0-2-1

 

Martin Kaymer ... It hasn’t been a banner year for the German, but he brings to the table the experience of a winning effort at Celtic Manor that included a 2-1-1 record. He did his damage alongside Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, going 1-0-1 and 1-0-0, respectively. Kaymer will need to play well early to earn four tee times this year, as his current form is a question mark. In terms of partners, Poulter and Westwood remain likely matches, as would Peter Hanson and Justin Rose. Predicted record: 0-1-2

 

Paul Lawrie ... Hasn’t played in a Ryder Cup since 1999, but went 3-1-1 in a losing effort. He partnered with Colin Montgomerie in all four team matches and won in singles over Jeff Maggert. It is highly unlikely that Lawrie sees five tee times in this edition, as three is more likely. Possible partners include Peter Hanson, Graeme McDowell and Francesco Molinari. Predicted record:1-2-0

 

Graeme McDowell ... Secured the winning point for the Euros in his match with Hunter Mahan at Celtic Manor. In his two Ryder Cups, he’s amassed a steady 4-2-2 record; going 2-0-0 in singles and 1-1-1 in both foursomes and four-ball. He partnered exclusively with Rory McIlroy in three team events at Celtic Manor, going 1-1-1. His only partner from 2008 that earned a bid to the 2012 team is Ian Poulter, with whom he won a point in the four-ball. It seems likely that he would partner with fellow Ulsterman, McIlroy, again, but G-Mac could also match up with Poulter, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari or Lee Westwood. Predicted record: 1-2-1

 

Rory McIlroy ... The world’s No. 1-ranked player went 1-1-2 in his first Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010, partnering exclusively with Graeme McDowell. While it is likely that pairing will reunite, McIlroy's partners could vary. One would have to think with his age at the time of the 2010 Ryder Cup, McDowell made sense as a partner from a comfort standpoint more so than a matchup of skills. In addition to McDowell, other possible partners include Nicolas Colsaerts, Sergio Garcia, Ian Polter, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood. Predicted record 2-1-2

 

Francesco Molinari ... Had a rather unsuccessful first stint as a member of the European Ryder Cup team, going 0-2-1 at Celtic Manor. He partnered with his brother, Edoardo, in both of his team matches before getting drummed by Tiger Woods in his singles match. Though they are brothers, the Molinaris play to different strengths, so there’s a chance a better matchup could present itself at Medinah. Possible partners include Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell. Predicted record: 0-2-1

 

Ian Poulter ... Entering his fourth Ryder Cup, he's an impressive 8-3-0 and is expected to be a leader on Team Europe. He’s a bulldog in singles, boasting a 3-0-0 record. Also has winning records in foursomes and four-ball. He went 2-1-0 with Justin Rose in 2008, and won his only matches while paired with Graeme McDowell (2008), Luke Donald (2010) and Martin Kaymer (2010). This could be a week where Poulter's Ryder Cup record takes a step back, as I’m not sure Medinah was made for him. Expect at least one pairing with fellow Englishman, Rose, but he could jump in with any of his other three past mates. As a possible strategic move, Captain José Maria Olazábal could choose to pair him with Rory McIlroy early in the week to jumpstart the European squad. Predicted record: 2-2-0

 

Justin Rose ... Playing in his second Ryder Cup, went 3-1-0 in the 2008 edition paired exclusively with Ian Poulter. He also won his singles match over Phil Mickelson. Medinah is probably a little better fit for Rose than Poulter, but you have to think that they will share a tee time at least once. Other possible matchups include Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. Predicted record: 2-1-1

 

Lee Westwood ... The elder statesman for the European squad is set to tee it up in his eighth Ryder Cup. His 16-11-6 record is a big reason why the Euros have fared so well against the Yanks in the past few contests. When you look back at Westy’s history, he tends to get a partner and stick with him. In his first Ryder Cup, he paired with Nick Faldo for four sessions. He then teamed up with good friend, Darren Clarke, in four sessions. It would be four in a row with Sergio Garcia in 2002, and then Garcia again for the first three in 2004 before jumping back to Clarke for his fourth session. At the K Club, Westwood alternated tee times with Colin Montgomerie and Clarke and went back to Garcia once more in 2008 before moving onto Anders Hansen. Westwood shared two tee times with Martin Kaymer and one with Luke Donald in 2010. What does all this mean? It seems Westy likes being paired with ball-strikers for the most part and appreciates familiarity. That means possible partners include Donald, Garcia, Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. Whoever is in the first matchup could become the guy the rest of the way. Predicted record 2-2-0

 

OVERALL PROJECTIONS -- Europe

 

Four-ball: 2-4-2

Foursomes: 3-2-3

Singles: 5-6-1

 

Total points: 13

 

Suggested Matchups

 

Form will dictate how matchups evolve after the first sessions of foursomes and four-ball. Below are pairings representing who each captain should put out for both sessions on Friday.

 

Session 1 (Foursomes)

 

• Z. Johnson and Dufner (USA) vs. Donald and Garcia (Europe)

• Woods and Stricker (USA) vs. Poulter and Rose (Europe)

• Furyk and Kuchar (USA) vs. Lawrie and Molinari (Europe)

• Mickelson and Snedeker (USA) vs. McIlroy and Westwood (Europe)

 

Session 2 (Fourball)

 

• Bradley and Mickelson (USA) vs. Colsaerts and Hanson (Europe)

• Simpson and Watson (USA) vs. Kaymer and Rose (Europe)

• D. Johnson and Woods (USA) vs. Garcia and Westwood (Europe)

• Dufner and Snedeker (SA) vs. McDowell and McIlroy (Europe)

 

It will be exciting to see how the drama plays out over three days of perfect weather in Illinois. As basic math from above illustrates, I’m going with the Red, White and Blue, 15-13.

 

If the Ryder Cup comes close to living up to the hype, this could be one for the ages.

 



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Ryan O’Sullivan joined Rotoworld in 2012. The Clemson grad blogs as The Golf Aficionado.
Email :Ryan O'Sullivan



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