Blog 66, 10/2/10 - Ryder Cup Session 3 Picks

The US enjoyed a good second session, winning the foursomes 3½-2½ and going 6-4 up overall. The third session is already well under way but play was suspended due to dwindling light at around 7.30pm with Europe up in all six matches! A few mid-match-views can't hurt.

Match 1
Tiger Woods & Steve Stricker
Luke Donald & Lee Westwood
This one is a little easier to predict with the Europeans already 4up after only nine holes (they were 5up through eight). Westwood is Donald's third partner so far, Donald is Westwood's second (he has a point and a half with Martin Kaymer). The elder Englishman enjoys an incredible record against Woods at the Ryder Cup, in fourballs and foursomes at least. In six matches, he has been part of the winning pair five times. Donald, the steadiest of players, has won all four of his foursomes matches at the Ryder Cup ('04 & '06), so it's not altogether surprising the Europeans hold such an impressive lead. Tiger, clearly not firing on all his many cylinders, needs to step up. I'm going out on a limb here and predicitng a win for Europe.
Europe wins 4&3

Match 2
Zach Johnson & Hunter Mahan
Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell
The Ulstermen lost in the morning to old rivals Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar (they had met them in the opening fourballs), and so began this match determined to put a full point on the board having entered the tournament as one of Europe's most fancied pairs. And what do you know, they're 3up on Johnson and Mahan after eight holes . The US pair beat the Molinaris in the morning foursomes with two closing birdies, but made an indifferent start in this match, going the equivalent of two-over-par through the first six holes. McIlroy has clearly settled now and is warming to the task. He and his good friend will take a lot of catching. Again, I feel pretty confident about this European victory.
Verdict: Europe wins  2&1

Match 3
Jim Furyk & Dustin Johnson
Padraig Harrington & Ross Fisher
With a 3&2 win in the morning foursomes alongside Fisher, over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, Harrington at last stopped his Ryder Cup rot winning his first match since his singles encounter with Jay Haas in 2004. The European pair are currently 1up through eight, so picking the winner here is a little trickier than it was for the first two matches (above). They were 2up through five but a two from Furyk and Johnson at the 7th have bought the Americans back into it. Johnson lost both his opening matches 3&2 with Mickelson, while Furyk halved his morning match with Rickie Fowler. Furyk has an awful fourball record 1-7-1, Harrington's 2-5-0 isn't much better. Tough one to call, I'll go for a half.
Verdict: Match halved

Match 4
Bubba Watson & Jeff Overton
Miguel Angel Jiminez & Peter Hanson
After their impressive opening fourball victory over Donald and Harrington, Watson and Overton lost in the second session foursomes to Donald and Ian Poulter. Currently 2down through six holes in this match, could it be their Ryder Cup honeymoon is well and truly over? The Europeans not surprisingly went down in the morning to a very impressive Woods and Stricker, but Jimenez began this match superbly making the equivalent of three birdies in the first six holes.
The Spaniard is, of course, the only player in this match with Ryder Cup experience and has a 2-2-1 record in fourballs. I suspect he will be adding another 1 to the win column.
Verdict: Europe wins 3&2

Match 5
Stewart Cink & Matt Kuchar
Eduardo Molinari & Francesco Molinari
After a half in the opening fourballs against McIlroy and McDowell and a great victory over the same pair in the morning foursomes, Cink and Kuchar are playing together for the third consecutive session but, after winning the 1st hole, are now a hole down through five. The Molinaris who lost in the morning are beginning to come to life, especially Francesco, the younger sibling, who has made the equivalent of three birdies so far. Cink has a 1-0-3 fourball record and will need to be at his best, and bring out the best in his partner, to stave off the Italians.
Verdict: Europe wins 1 hole.

Match 6
Phil Mickelson & Rickie Fowler
Ian Poulter & Martin Kaymer
Mickelson lobbied hard for Fowler's wild card pick and now has the responsibility of guiding the 21-year-old rookie against a very potent team in Poulter, who won with Donald in the morning, and Kaymer who has a point and a half from two matches. Mickelson has lost both his matches so far, his Ryder Cup record (10-16-6) now beginning to take on a rather grim look. The world number two (he'll be number three on Monday morning when the rankings are updated) desperately needs a win, but the Europeans went 2up through four holes with Poulter looking solid.
Verdict: Europe wins 2&1

Session Three: Europe 5½ USA ½
Match Score: Europe 9½ USA 6½
(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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