The result of the first four singles matches on Sunday will go a long way in determining the outcome of this year’s Ryder Cup. The guessing game between team captains Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal ended when the order of play was announced ahead of the third day of competition.
Olazabal in particular will be determined that his side win some of the early matches. The Europeans are facing a four point deficit which means they have to win eight points to retain the Cup and more to win this year’s renewal.
There is a precedence for a side to overturn a four point deficit with just the singles to play. The United States won from that position at Brookline Country Club in 1999. However, that was a home match and it would take a huge turnaround in form for the US to lose now.
One of the features of matches on Friday and Saturday was the number of putts the Americans holed and the number that shaved the hole by the opposition. Some of those putts will inevitably drop today but Love’s men surely won’t miss enough to let Europe back into the match.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson (pictured) play in matches three and four, against Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose respectively. If Mickelson can make a fast start against McIlroy the momentum will be with the home side and that is a key element of the Ryder Cup.
Ian Poulter represents the heart and emotion of the European side. He holed some crucial putts yesterday to secure a win with McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. Poulter is paired with the US Open champion Webb Simpson today. This could be another pivotal match as both players have excelled this week.
Bubba Watson and Luke Donald will start proceedings at just after 11 o’clock this morning. Donald is well known to the locals having lived in Chicago for fifteen years. However, allegiances will be firmly drawn and the home support will be looking for Watson to get an early lead.
In the middle pairings the Europeans appear to have an edge and that is why it is important that the States stay in the early matches. Love seems to be assuming that the outcome of the match will be undecided well into the final day. He has put out Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods in the final two matches and what a wonderful climax it would be if Woods secured the winning point.