The 2010 Ryder Cup finally gets underway at 7.45am Friday 1st October with Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson taking on the home challenge of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. With 3,000 golf fans surrounding the first tee, the atmosphere will be electric, however what we're most interested in is who is going to win and by how much!
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Lee Westwood/Martin Kaymer vs Phil Mickelson/Dustin Johnson
As you’d expect, both Monty and Pavin have gone with real strength in the 1st Four-Ball match at Celtic Manor. The consistency and experience of Lee Westwood teamed with potentially the world’s best player on current form, Martin Kaymer. What a team! Pavin has gone for sheer firepower with the amazingly talented and incredibly long Dustin Johnson teamed with World Number 2 and Masters Champion Phil Mickelson. Wow!
Westwood has a winning record over Lefty at the Ryder Cup and has a 50% win rate in Four-Ball competition allied to a 67% result percentage (Half or better). That’s impressive, however in our view there are serious fault lines in the Westwood/Kaymer package. Lee hasn’t played competitive golf since mid July and despite Monty’s positive verbal gusto, he will struggle to find his best game. Will Kaymer, who has a 2-6 Win-Loss record in Matchplay, be able to cope with the strain?
Don’t doubt Johnson’s ability to score birdies on a soaked course where his predacious length will pay huge dividends and he has winning Match Play experience in team competition. The blend with Mickelson feels perfect. Yes they will miss fairways and greens but in Four Ball their attack mentality will lead to numerous birdie chances . Despite the wind and the rain we can’t see past Lefty & Dustin edging this clash at decent odds.
Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell vs Stewart Cink/Matt Kuchar
Where we fancy Team USA in the top match, we have absolutely no doubts that the Northern Irish dream team will prevail in the second clash. Rory and G-Mac have an amazing Match Play record and love the rough and tumble of Four Ball competition. We’ve tipped G-Mac at 16/1 to be top overall point scorer and confirmation that he has both teamed up with McIlroy and faces Cink and Kuchar in the opening round of Four Balls is like music to our ears.
The experienced Cink has NEVER lost a Four Ball match in his Ryder Cup career and the conditions will hold no fears for him, but fact is he has had a terrible season and isn’t the same player as he was in 06 and 08. Georgia Tech grad Kuchar (like Cink) has had a stellar 2010 and his rise up the rankings has been prestigious. However his 1-4 Match Play record just doesn’t appeal and he looked “cooked” at last week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta. They compliment each other well but a soggy Welsh morning won’t appeal to Kuchar one little bit whose record in Britain is plain awful.
It won’t be a stroll and Cink will keep things very tight in his quest for a halved match, but on the 2010 course where G-Mac triumphed in June will the Yanks be able to blunt Europe’s cut and thrust? We see McDowell and McIlroy adding another “W” to their 4 match winning team partnership streak (Seve Trophy 2009).
Ian Poulter/Ross Fisher vs Steve Stricker/Tiger Woods
The top match on Friday morning menu by a country mile and it WILL go down to the wire. Stricker delivered at last year’s Presidents Cup what America had been looking for 13 years….a partner that gets the best out of Tiger in Four Ball and Foursome matches. World Number 1 and Number 3 delivered 4 straight wins in perfect harmony. Poulter was born for the Ryder Cup and in Fisher has a Ryder Cup rookie who won’t be overawed and who delivers in match play. They are the reigning Accenture World Match Play and Volvo World Match Play champions who thrive in the heat (or damp if you prefer in Wales) of battle.
Both teams are aggression and calm personified. We simply can’t split them so expect the match halved over 18 tight holes of brilliant match play. Enjoy.
Luke Donald/Padraig Harrington vs Bubba Watson/Jeff Overton
Let’s face facts, Pod is a lucky Irishman to be in the European team! He’s under pressure and needs to deliver. The consistent Donald is in great nick and although he can’t convert contentions into the right number of wins in the stroke play arena, his Match Play record is simply awesome. An 83% result record in the Ryder Cup and a 7-1 Win-Loss record in Walker Cup isn’t too shabby. Hey that’s why we have him as a dark horse for top overall point scorer.
You can see why Pavin has paired rookies Watson and Overton in the bottom match. They’ll be instructed to attack, attack, attack and that could pay dividends. However the weather conditions won’t favour them in any way. Whilst Harrington may stray from the path at times, expect the European’s to have too much experience and guile for Blubba and Overton.
All odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:30BST 30.9.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.