Where to put your money
Obviously those who watched 2 years ago on TV had yet another epic “cut and thrust” of emotional roller coaster watching on TV. It should not be forgotten though at one point USA were ahead in all but 2 of the Singles Matches and as Tom Watson (no less) said to me (honestly) while walking down the 14th with Lee & Jimmy Walker “I believe Team USA is trending at the moment. I have no idea what that means but it sounds good”
(I had spent most of the week in The Niblick in Auchterader drinking Real Ale with his Son Nick who was a support driver, Nick introduced us and it was a “Moment”)
Anyway back on topic.
Will we see this type of thing on Sunday?
Well of course not. For one thing I’m not there so there won’t be a Saints shirt in the middle of the celebrations!
Put your money on Team USA to win by 2 points or more.
Why will USA Win?
Rookies for one thing, look they talk the talk and walk the walk in the build up but get away from the hype and let’s go through the players
Rory - He has had an awful year, Main problem has been his putting, he has changed his grip, changed his stroke, now those woes meant that he then puts pressure on his Iron shots. He KNOWS he has to get every shot to within 8 feet to have a chance of making a putt, yet many holes require a safety first strategy of getting on the green, When you take on EVERY pin you end up playing yourself into trouble. The GOOD news is his new putter is working, Two big tournament wins in the last 3 and he is THE form golfer. He SHOULD earn close to maximum points DEPENDING on who he is paired with.
Justin - A Fighter, not at the top of his game but we all saw in Rio what he can do, the forgotten man of British Golf because he is so quiet. When I spoke to him at the DP World Championships after Gleneagles (getting my Ryder Cup Flag signed by the whole team) and I said I was there his reply was… “Wasn’t that the most fantastic weekend of our lives? I keep saying that and my wife keeps saying But what about our wedding/birth of our kids… Women will never understand it will they…” Justin will hold steady expect hims to win more points than he loses
Henrik - A worry. He had a fantastic run of form in July, but then his dodgy knee flared up. It cost him his chance to win big bucks in the Fed Ex Cup when he withdrew. He NEEDS surgery, but has not had time. He has not played competitive golf for several weeks and was not playing that well with his knee twinging. They will manage the pain but will he be on top form? Europe need him to be in the positive points zone, is he sharp enough?
Danny - Interesting one - He won down here in Dubai (and bought us a beer) but while he had been playing well he was like Justin under the radar. Augusta changed everything. He didn’t actually WIN the Masters, others LOST it. The problem is that Danny then became a Celeb, his Brother became a Twitter superstar (and got in trouble yesterday), and Danny & Nicole focused on their new Baby and being Celebs - attending Basketball Matches, Celebrity Chefs and being Pap’d. And his golf was actually shit for most of the summer when he bothered to play. He did return to form in Milan running Francesco a close second and of all the Rookies he has the experience to cope with the pressure. Think he will be in the positive points but only just
Sergio - Steady Eddie - done nothing of note, not been noticed much BUT won an awful lot of money by being consistent and in the Top 10 in many of the big tournaments. Like Poulter, he really comes alive at the Ryder Cup and will be a key team member positive points
Martin - Not a good year for him, His strength is his putting and short game and it has not been firing for him. Still cool under pressure and still likely to be a key player, but is his game sharp enough? Neutral or just positive in the points
Then we get the real Rookies
Andy - This kid can play. He did a Clinic down here with Darren Clarke where he could hit Fades, draws, cuts, stingers and even Flop Shots to order off the grass with a DRIVER! He has every part of the game, PLUS he is barking mad. He spent a couple of hours 2 years ago holding fort with the Dubai Saints crew after DP World and really is a genuinely GREAT LAD. He has the game for the Ryder Cup and he has the Mentality. The PROBLEM is that his form of late has been woeful, too many missed cuts and that lack of experience means he carries that from the Green to teh next tee and fucks up the next shot. IMHO the strongest metally of the Team and without a doubt he will be the next Poulter as years pass. Just don’t think his game is in shape, think he will be just negative on the points
Chris - Nice guy, and a lucky sod (anyone who goes to Barasti and pulls TWO Hosties must have something about him) Performed REALLY well at his first Open as an Amateur and has gradually become more consistent and picked up tournament wins after his maiden win in France. Being so tall he can caress the ball a long way, but he is “quiet” not sure he has the mental strength, think like Andy he will be neutral or just negative on points won
Thomas - Very good golfer who can hit a Long Ball and has a good short game, again has been in very good form winning in Denmark, just wonder whether this is too early in his career experience wise. Has the game and the previous Belgian Rookie fared well on his debut in US, again think he will just be negative
Matthew - Ah what a nice kid, trouble is he already looks like a rabbit in the headlights in many of the Tweets and pictures. Earnt his place with some fine golf earlier in the summer then fell to pieces. Got some form back in Switzerland. Matt’s problem is he is a tidy all round golfer, but he simply does not hit the ball far enough for Hazletine. It has the longest Par 5 in Ryder Cup history - 642 yards FFS. Hope I am wrong but think he will really struggle
Lee - Ah Mrs D_P’s boyfriend (Seriously another daft tale) Lee HAD to be in the team, missing Poulter GMac and the likes of Luke Donald, Lee’s experience was critical. The PROBLEM is that Lee has played shit this year (and the last few tbh) He always had issues with his 8/9 irons in the past and of late his putting has become weaker than it was. He did play better in the Mountains in Switzerland, but at Gleneagles in the Singles he was never in with a shout against Jimmy Walker. I would expect him to play well in the Doubles but depends who he is paired with Lee & Matthew could be a nightmare, Lee and Danny could be a dream team
Rafa - Strange chap seems most pleasant like all the Spaniards, but while Miguel bought $100 bottles of Rioja for anyone who would sit and talk with him at the Players party & Sergio challenged all comers to Table Tennis (Oh did you know Sergio plays golf Commando? Enjoy that thought when he is bending over a Putt this weekend!) Rafa just sat there and blanked everyone. Also a real grumpy git on the course. He always flatters to deceive, always plays “well” then invariably has one bad round. His Long Game is superb, but it is in his short game that he struggles, just doesn’t get the ball consistently close enough to the pin as say Rory does. Mentally not so sure he will hold it together. Obviously the Dream Team is Sergio & Rafa, but will he drag Sergio down?
If I could gamble down here I would bet on Team USA winning by 2 points or more
Darren - 9Wise head on those shoulders, not affected too much by years of swilling beer and chatting up other peopls wives (with Lee) (Mrs D-P got a slap for t hat but he did apologise and buy me a beer))
Picking the teams for days 1 and 2 will be key. Playing 5 rounds of golf under that pressure in 3 days would kill mere humans. Yet Rory Lee Sergio and Justin will no doubt be up for the fighth. Will Henrik’s Meniscus be up to that? Danny should be crucial but again he has never been there before.
One of the Key pieces of a Ryder Cup tactically is how you introduce the Rookies, do you leave them on the sidelines and ONLY put them out for their debut in the singles or do you try and introduce them in partnership with the old heads? It is a VERY dangerous balance. More than anything else team Europe cannot afford to leave the Rookies benched BUT will they then win enough points on Days 1 and 2 to scrape over the line?
I don’t think so.
Today’s ITK Story
Yesterday was all the Team Photo stuff. The World Press get to take pictures but the shoot is actually set up by David & Andrew from Getty Images. It kinda looks like this
So Team USA line up for their photo. One of their Vice Captains thinks he should be in at least one of the photos and "steps into the shot.
Andrew & David chirp up with “Oi Tiger, this is for players ONLY - get the hell out of the shot we haven’t got all day” They did it in a Brit humour way.
Tiger stormed off cussing and huffing.
Silly but that is how fragile the Mental Game is something so trivial can cause massive ripples through the camp.
For those in Milan, there are a few more details of Gleneagles Celtic Manor & Valhalla that simply can never be typed