Blog 65, 10/2/10 - Ryder Cup Foursomes Picks

Saturday at the Ryder Cup continues with six foursome (alternate shot) matches. The score after the first session of fourballs was 2½ - 1½ in favor of the US.

Match 1
Tiger Woods & Steve Stricker 
Miguel Angel Jimenez & Peter Hanson
Hard to tell how the European duo would have felt seeing their names go up against those of Stricker and Woods, especially now that the Americans just finished off a 2&1 win in the fourballs against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. Excited? Probably. Nervous? Likely. Scared? Very possibly. Hanson certainly is being thrown in at the deep end - a foursomes match against America's most intimidating team. The Mechanic (Jimenez) has seen it all before and will happily traverse Celtic Manor in a cloud of cigar smoke. But he will need to calm a partner who will never have felt so at sea before. Woods and Stricker won both their foursomes matches at last year's Presidents Cup and are big favorites for this one.
Verdict: USA wins 4&3

Match 2
Zach Johnson & Hunter Mahan
Eduardo Molinari & Francesco Molinari
If Hanson gets thrown in at the deep end, the Molinari brothers are in only very slightly shallower water. They have the benefit of speaking each others' language and neither Zach Johnson nor Hunter Mahan are nearly as intimidating as Woods, or quite as steady as Stricker, but this is still a testing debut for the Italians. Johnson lost one foursomes match and halved the other at the K Club in 2006, and won one match and halved the other at last year's Presidents Cup. Mahan was 1-1-0 in foursomes at the last Ryder Cup and 0-1-1 at the Presidents Cup. Tough call but US sneaks it.
Verdict: USA wins 1 hole

Match 3
Jim Furyk & Rickie Fowler
Lee Westwood & Martin Kaymer
Good move putting Fowler out with such a wily campaigner as Furyk. The young rookie was probably being saved for the next round of fourballs but, with everyone out playing foursomes today, Furyk was the most sensible choice of partner. That said, the FedEx Cup champion's record in Ryder Cup foursomes is a surprisingly poor 3-5-1. And with Westwood and Kaymer establishing themselves as probably Europe's toughest opponents, it could easily get worse.
Verdict: Europe wins 3&2

Match 4
Phil Mickelson & Dustin Johnson
Ross Fisher & Padraig Harrington
Everyone in this match was part of a losing pair in the fourballs, so they'll be desperate to put a point on the board, and none more so than Harrington who didn't manage a single birdie in the first session, is working on a terrible losing streak in the Ryder Cup (0-8-2 since 2006) and still feels the pressure of being picked for the team ahead of Paul Casey. On paper, Johnson and Mickelson does not look like a good foursomes matchup - both extremely long but frequently wayward. The man of this match may be the reliable Ross Fisher.
Verdict: Europe wins 1 hole.

Match 5
Bubba Watson & Jeff Overton
Ian Poulter & Luke Donald
Again, this US pair would never have been chosen for the foursomes under normal circumstances for the same reason Mickelson and Johnson aren't ideally suited to this format - they are both very long but can be wildly inaccurate. And they will be up against two Englishmen who will be keen to improve upon their fourball performances. Cool Hand Luke is the star of this one.
Verdict: Europe wins 3&2

Match 6
Stewart Cink & Matt Kuchar
Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell
The only rematch from the first session and just as hard to call as their fourball encounter which ended with each team getting half a point. Cink is 2-4-1 in Ryder Cup foursomes so appears to have a weakness under this format, while McDowell lost his one foursomes match at Valhalla. McIlroy came alive this morning with a couple of birdie twos to drag the European pair back into the match, and will obviously be hoping to keep his momentum going. McDowell is yet to show the form he used to win the Wales Open at Celtic Manor in June. If it all comes back to him now and McIlroy slips into top gear, the Americans will need more of Cink's long putts to keep up.
Verdict: Europe wins 2&1

Foursomes: Europe 4 USA 2
(Again, bear in mind I could be very, very wrong. Let me know what you think of my predictions, and give me some of your own.)

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