With the second day of the Ryder Cup in the books, the United States holds an advantage over their rivals form across the Atlantic. While the U.S. was expected to be strong going into this competition, some surprising variables have played a role as the first and second sessions were completed at Medinha:
1) Lack of Tiger’s Impact: Going into this tournament Tiger Woods was expected to be one of the key components if the U.S. was to defeat the Europeans. At the end of the second day, the way in which the American team outplayed Europe cannot be questioned. The fact that Woods was not a factor in their early success has raised some eye-brows. A slew of missed putts has led what is a normally a dependable Woods-Steve Stricker pairing to an 0-3 record.
2) Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley: This pairing has been the surprising catalyst of the U.S. effort thus far at Medinha. Friday saw Mickelson and Bradley collect two wins for the United States, including a point in a tough match-up with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Bradley has helped energize Mickelson’s game, leading him to the best day-1 performance of his nine Ryder Cup appearances. After collecting another win against Luke Donald and Lee Westwood on Saturday, this duo has had the biggest impact on the U.S. campaign heading into Sunday’s final session.
3) Rory McIlroy’s Performance: Big things were expected of golf’s number one in this year’s Ryder Cup. A season that saw him win multiple tournaments (including 1 major) branded him as a leader and centerpiece of the European effort at Medinha. Throughout the first two sessions this has not been the case. McIlroy’s pairings are currently 2-2, with two of his losses featuring the dependable McDowell. If it had not been for the clutch putting of Ian Poulter in Saturday’s final match, McIlroy may have had a losing record after the first two days. While his individual play has been solid, Europe’s biggest star was unable to give his team an edge in the four-ball or foursome sessions.
4) Nicolas Colsaerts: The Belgian was the only Ryder Cup rookie that was included on Europe’s 2012 roster. Surprisingly, Colsaerts has been one of the few bright spots in a team performance that has been muddled with defeat. Friday afternoon saw the rookie single-handedly disbatch a Woods resurgence and claim an important point for Europe. A lack of experience is clearly not a problem for Colsaerts His Captain Jose Maria Olazabal will hope the the hot-handed, long-driving man from Schaerbeek can continue his play on Sunday.
5) The United States Dominance: While the U.S. was given a slight edge on paper, no one expected the Americans to claim double the European’s point total at the end of day 2. The fact that their strongest performances have come from rookies and unlikely heroes (hats off to Keegan Bradley) makes this score-line even more astounding. Had Woods been able to sort-out his game on Friday or Saturday things would have been even more grim for the Europeans. Davis Love has his team in prime position to record a historic U.S. win on Sunday. If the American rookies can stand the test of singles-matches with Europe’s vets this may be one of the most lopsided U.S. wins to date.