The Americans have the top two players in the world, but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are anything but Ryder Cup stars. Through their careers, they’ve never won this bi-annual event outside of America. Can an injection of young blood carry the U.S.?
Or will Colin Montgomerie’s crew – favored by the bookmakers, by the way – put on a winning team effort at Celtic Manor?
Winner and Final Score
Ron Varrial: I love the American blend of youth and experience. While the weather screams Wales, the golf course design screams Ohio, favoring this batch of Yanks. I’ll take the United States, 15-13.
Justin Pucheu: United States, of course. Going with 16-12.
Alan Olson: I’m hoping the era of the blowout is over and the matches are more competitive. With that, Team Europe squeaks one out on their home turf with a 14½ to 13½ win.
Danny Ottmann: I am going USA upset! Much has been said about how the European team is better on paper. I think the nice mix of young and old will benefit the Americans and they will pull out a stunner 14½ to 13½.
George Promenschenkel: The series of blowouts ends this year. The European Team is stronger top to bottom, but the U.S. has a better top end (assuming Tiger, et al. don’t totally tank). The European home field advantage and mastery of alternate shot should do the trick. Euros in a fairly tight one, 15 to 13. I don’t even think Monty can mess this up, at least not at home.
Erik J. Barzeski: It’s the Ryder Cup. The difference between a one-point win at 14½-13½ and a two-point win at 15-13 is literally one putt sometimes to halve a match on 18, so guesses are luck. I think the U.S. wins and I’m going to be bold and say they do it 16-12. But, that’s only four putts from a Euro 16-12 victory, too.
Top U.S. Point Scorer
Ron Varrial: Rickie Fowler is too young and too brash to realize just how big a stage this is. Look for him to play aggressively and rack up the wins.
Justin Pucheu: For some reason, I’ve got a feeling it will be Hunter Mahan. Or Bubba Watson, if Pavin plays him enough. The guy seemed so emotional about it after the PGA Championship, I think he’ll be extremely passionate and focused. With his dad being in bad shape, I’m sure that will be in the front of his mind, and he’ll be trying to take it to another level.
Alan Olson: I’m failing to see the guy who’s going to carry this team. His record isn’t good (8-13-3) but Jim Furyk seems to be the leading vote getter.
Danny Ottmann: Tiger Woods will have all his swing changes come together and will feel the need to backup the fact he was a captain’s pick. He will dominate.
George Promenschenkel: I’m going with Stricker, though I could see DJ surprising us with a big outing. Stricker is very consistent and should play well at Celtic Manor. Of course, Tiger will be looking to get something positive out of this year.
Erik J. Barzeski: Frankly, I think Tiger plays with Stricker all four rounds, and then nabs a point in singles, so I’m picking Tiger Woods. I think he has something to prove and just enough game to get it done (with a partner to lean on at times, too).
Top European Point Scorer
Ron Varrial: Sticking with my faith in newcomers, Rory McIlroy backs up his big talk with some big play. He takes the torch from Sergio as the young stud who can make one birdie after another.
Justin Pucheu: Martin Kaymer. Dude is sneaky good, and always seems cool and collected.
Alan Olson: Luke Donald. He’s had a good year and I expect that to carry over for the Ryder Cup.
Danny Ottmann: Miguel Angel Jimenez and his workmanlike game will be the top point scorer for the Europeans. His type of gritty game lends itself to match play.
George Promenschenkel: Paul Casey. Oh, right. Let’s see? I’m rooting for Miguel Angel Jimenez, but his Ryder Cup record has not been stellar. I think Edoardo Molinari might just be the guy for Europe. He, like Jimenez, is having a big year, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if a few years down the road we are talking about how he eclipsed the faster rising star of Rory McIlroy.
Erik J. Barzeski: You can’t overlook Martin Kaymer.
Goat of the Week
Ron Varrial: Since I’m picking the U.S. to win, I need to think the goat will be European. Given he’s coming off a two-month injury hiatus, and how much the Euros are depending on him, Lee Westwood is prime for dragging his team down. Should the U.S. falter, my bet is that Tiger Woods is the culprit. It would only be fitting that the worst year of his career would be capped by a dreadful Ryder Cup showing.
Justin Pucheu: Monty. Or at least I’m hoping he is. I hope his snub of Paul Casey comes back to bite him. Not that I wish anything bad on Harrington or Donald (I think both are tremendous players), but I hope somehow it works out that the Europeans are left wondering “What if we would have had PC?”
Alan Olson: Tiger Woods. Swing changes are looming and the Ryder Cup isn’t his best event. That’s not a good combination.
Danny Ottmann: Ian Poulter for the Europeans will stink it up bringing up the question again why Paul Casey was left off the team.
George Promenschenkel: The sure pick is the losing coach. But for a player, I’ll go with Rickie Fowler. Controversial captain’s pick might just crumble under the pressure. Of course, I keep predicting this, and it doesn’t seem to happen. Maybe it’s just the way he wears his hat that gives me that impression.
Erik J. Barzeski: Padraig Harrington is the easy pick, but I like Poulter to play poorly. He was buoyed by Faldo in 2008 (and was perhaps the only player to feel that way) – and will not have that advantage this year.
Young Guns or Grizzled Veterans Shine Brightest?
Ron Varrial: The credentials of this batch of youngsters is astounding. Major champs, major contenders, and in McIlroy, the most talented 21-year old since Tiger Woods. Given the vast number of young players, it won’t be as intimidating as if there were just one or two rookies mixed in. I expect you’ll see some duds amongst the veterans, and as a whole, they’ll see the spotlight shift to a new brand of golfer.
Justin Pucheu: I think for the most part, the vets on both sides anchor their respective teams and ultimately end up being the difference makers. I mean, odds are, they’ll be the ones playing the most. Stricker and Tiger especially will be strong. Phil and (likely) DJ, I’m not so sure. It will either be something amazing, or a trainwreck. And something tells me Cink plays a big part as well.
Alan Olson: The young guns, or the grizzled veterans? It’s rare for a rookie to shine in this pressure-packed event. The grizzled veterans have been there and done that and while several don’t have the best records, they know what to expect.
Danny Ottmann: The U.S. young contingent will make the difference and will shine when the Americans upset the Europeans.
George Promenschenkel: Go gray hairs! I think the pressure on all those rookies will take a toll. A few will rise to the occasion but overall the old guys will have a better week.
Erik J. Barzeski: There are simply too many rookies – four and six, I think? – that they won’t be crucial. The veterans include the likes of Mickelson, Tiger, Cink (blech), Furyk (1-7-1 in fourballs I think I read somewhere?), Harrington&helip;
U.S. Uniforms: Retro Cool vs. Retro Revolting
Ron Varrial: Corey Pavin loses major points for his Twitter ban. But these are some cool duds. I especially love the rain gear they broke out on Wednesday. Love the old time football look, complete with names on the back. The rest of the outfits are classy and traditional and appropriate for the setting. And we won’t be vomiting in our mouths for decades to come when watching Celtic Manor highlights, which is more than you can say for every time Brookline comes on the screen.
Justin Pucheu: Friday’s sweater is the color of urine. Saturday’s sweater tells me someone was channeling their inner Mr. Rogers. And while Sunday’s uniform may be the best of the bunch, that’s like saying you’re the best team in the NFC West – still ultimately awful. At least there’s no plaid.
Alan Olson: I’ll go with more of a retro cool look overall but there are a couple of outfits that should have stayed on the drawing board.
Danny Ottmann: I believe I made my feelings heard in a recent Hittin’ the Links. They are retro-awful, retro-nauseating, and retro-revolting. They are worse than those shirts with the picture frames on them from 1999. Why the U.S. would force their young players to dress like 80 year-old country club members, I have no idea.
George Promenschenkel: Revolting. One combo is all right, but the rest of the stuff doesn’t seem to fit together very well.
Erik J. Barzeski: If I was giving it a grade, I’d have to put it in the middle. I like the idea, and it’s grown on me a bit since I first saw the outfits, but the idea could have been so much better. It’s not terrible, but it’s not a smash hit either.