The Ryder Cup returns this weekend at Gleneagles golf course, Scotland, with Europe looking for a third successive victory over their rivals from across the pond.
After the extraordinary scenes on the final day two years ago at the Medinah Club where Ian Poulter inspired a remarkable comeback from four points down in the singles, hopes are that the testing rugged conditions at Gleneagles will produce similar levels of skill, passion and drama.
Looking at the early matches the Mickleson/Bradley vs McIlroy/Garcia fixture stands out given Mickleson’s recent comments about McIlroy’s legal dispute with teammate Graham McDowell. Watson’s decision to pair rookies Speith and Reed will also be interesting – their match with Poulter and Gallagher will see three debutants having to handle the early atmosphere.
The form guides would suggest that Europe have a slight edge with strong showings expected from Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia who are ranked 1st and 3rd in the world this year respectively. With Henrick Stenson fifth and Justin Rose sixth, Jim Furyk is the only American to make the top six. Questions were raised over the omission of Billy Horschel who was not selected by USA skipper Tom Watson as a wildcard despite having won his last three tournaments.
Europe also have a slight edge in experience with a combined total of two more competitions, however the vastly experienced duo of Phil Mickleson and Furyk will help the three rookies on the USA team. The old heads of Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia on the European side will also assist their three rookies. Both captains have incredible Ryder cup pedigree, however Tom Watson may have a slight tactical edge on Paul McGinley.
The conditions at Gleneagles should favour the Europeans with a style of course similar to that of the Open Championship and if Europe’s big players can stay tidy they should have a little bit too much for the USA.
It would be unjust not to give a special mention to Ian Poulter; the Ryder cup specialist always seems to bring his best form to the this event and has an incredible record winning 12 of his 15 matches – the greatest record in history. Fireworks, passion and drama are largely associated with the fiery Englishman, and if he can replicate the heroics of two years ago on the back nine at Medinah then we are all in for a treat.
Image courtesy of New York Post