After a long week of anticipation, the Ryder Cup gets underway tomorrow at 7:20 am at The Medinah County Club. Four European teams will face off against four teams from the United States in alternate shot matches. Basically, two players from each side team up and alternate shots until the hole is completed (hence the term alternate shot). The afternoon session will also be a team event, but the matches will be better ball, where all four players play their own ball with the lowest score winning the hole. Saturday’s setup will be the same as Friday’s, but the matches on Sunday will be quite different. The excitement really comes on the final day of the tournament, which features 12 singles matches. This means that every player on the each side will get to compete for their team.
Earlier this evening, American captain Davis Love III and European captain Jose Maria Olazabal announced their pairings for the first four matches, taking place Friday morning. Keep in mind, the two sides did not know the order, or even the players, that the other captain would choose to use to start the tournament. It had to be a tough decision for the coaches to determine which 4 players from each of their teams had to take a seat to start the tournament. But the good thing is that by the time everything is said and done, everyone will have the chance to contribute to their team. The Friday morning pairings are listed below:
7:20 AM: Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (EUR)
7:35 AM: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley (USA) vs. Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
7:50 AM: Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson (USA) vs. Lee Westwood and Franceso Molinari (EUR)
8:05 AM: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods (USA) vs. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose (EUR)
I can possibly see the United States side coming out of the morning session with 2 points. I anticipate Mickelson and Bradley beating Donald and Garcia, mainly because I don’t trust Sergio’s mental strength. I see McIlroy and McDowell taking their match, especially considering Snedeker is a Ryder Cup rookie and is starting the first match of the tournament. If the United States can halve the other two matches, they will be in good shape heading into the afternoon.
The fun thing about match play, however, is that you truly have absolutely no idea how any match is going to turn out. I, for one, am just glad that the tournament is finally starting. It’s going to be an exciting 3 days of golf.