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Friday Fourball Predictions – Ryder Cup 2010

September 30, 2010

After days and days of hype around who would play would with who, the announcement finally came. With every group that went out to practice since Tuesday there has been a mass of speculation of what it all meant. Would Tiger be tagged with Stricker because of their President’s Cup success? Will Colin Montgomerie gives the fans the partnership they want; Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell? How does Corey Pavin juggle the rookies with his Ryder Cup veterans? Will Monty come good on his promise to play all 12 Europeans on the first day? Okay, so that final one hasn’t been answered yet but the rest pretty much have. I’m going to look ahead to tomorrow’s opening matches and give my thoughts on how I think they will go.

Prediction for after the Friday Fourballs: 2½ Europe1½ America

Match 1: Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson versus Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer

Keen to set his stall out early, Montgomerie has went with two of the strongest players on the European team. Lee Westwood has been the most consistent golfer in the world in 2010 while Martin Kaymer is arguably the best young golfer on the planet. Having already won a major at such a young age, Kaymer will not be phased by being first out and neither will Westwood. He is the heartbeat of the European team though they will have a tough task against Mickelson and Johnson.

While Westwood has been consistent this year, Mickelson has produced the best of the year. Some of the golf he played at the 2010 Masters was out of this world; case in point, his 2nd shot on the 13th hole. And in Dustin Johnson, he has a pretty competent partner who enjoyed that winning feeling at the start of 2010.

Ultimately though, I feel Westwood and Kaymer should be too much for the US pairing.

Winners: Westwood and Kaymer, 3&2

Match 2: Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar versus Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

Since they came second to Italy at the 2009 Golf World Cup, McIlroy and McDowell have been touted up and down the country as potential Ryder Cup partners. Montgomerie has shocked no-one by putting them together on the opening morning and they will be licking their lips at the though of taking on quiet-men Cink and Kuchar.

The US pairing are not flamboyant players on the course; and they won’t be able to whip the watching American fans into a frenzy if one of them drops a 35 foot putt for an unlikely birdie. McDowell and McIlroy’s natural charisma as a pairing will do that for the European crowd. I suspect Friday afternoon won’t be able to come soon enough for the 2009 Open Champion and his rookie partner.

Winners: McIlroy and McDowell, 4&2

Match 3: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods versus Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher

In Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods seems to have finally found a partner he can finally play well with and win matches. And more importantly, Stricker has proven himself to be able to handle the pressure of playing alongside the world no.1. It’s been speculated by Fred Couples earlier in the week that all of Tiger’s former partners put themselves under too much pressure to perform; but somehow Stricker has managed. The pairing was unbeaten last year when put together and I don’t see that ending here.

Ian Poulter loves the Ryder Cup. His reactions from 2008 have lived long in the memory of all golf fans even if he was on the losing side and I think he will start off 2010 on the wrong end of a match. Ross Fisher’s game suits the Twenty Ten course at Celtic Manor; he is long off the tee which will benefit him massively. But me thinks the US pairing will take the point on the last hole.

Winners: Stricker and Woods, 2 UP

Match 4: Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton versus Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington

I want Padraig to do well. He deserves to start well considering all of the flack he has been receiving since he was announced as one of the wildcards. But there is something about the pairing of Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton that I can’t see losing. The two rookies will have no pressure put on them by Corey Pavin; that was the impression he gave in the post announcement press conference. Luke Donald is a great team player; but he really shines in Foursomes. Plus in the past, both he and Padraig have proven to be slow starts. I want to try to reason that the Europe team will take this but I just think the fearless rookies could spring a surprise. Not that a draw is a bad result for the Europeans.

Winners: No-one, match will be halved

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