IT’S been a long time coming, well it seems like it, but now it’s time for the European Ryder Cup team to step up to the plate at Hazeltine and bring the trophy home.
Davis Love doesn’t seemed to have tricked up the Hazeltine course although the greens are small and will probably run around 13 on the stimpmeter. The rough isn’t going to be any worse than normal but it would be advisable for the players to keep the ball on the fairway.
With six rookies in Darren Clarke’s team it looks a tough prospect for the Europeans while US captain Davis Love has two, naming Ryan Moore as his last pick after losing a play-off for the Tour Championship at East Lake.
I’m a bit worried about the newbies in the European team and think they will have to perform at the top of their game for Europe to retain the trophy.
Danny Willett has struggled a bit since winning The Masters but over the past few weeks has returned to some kind of form. Chris Wood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan have all seen a glimmer of form in their recent outings but Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera Bello have both had good season.
Rory McIlroy certain came good at the right time last weekend, with Henrik Stenson rested up after a knee injury and Justin Rose missing out on the Tour Championship after his Olympics win. Hopefully they will all be ready.
In fact we need all the experienced guys, including Sergio Garcio, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood to lead by example and take a lot of the pressure off the new guys.
Of the two new guys on the US team Moore played superbly at the weekend while Brooks Koepka’s form has dipped over his last three outings.
The pressure will be on the Americans and they will have to play as a team if they are to win here. Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth were awesome at Gleneagles and will have to replicate that at Hazeltine. Phil Mickelson has represented the US in every team event since 1994 with a record of 39-35-18 and his team is going to need him to be at the top of his game.
One thing that could come into play is the sad death of Arnold Palmer. We all know how inspired the Europeans were over Seve’s death at Medinah in 2012 and the death of the King might just have the same effect on the Americans.
Having won six of the last seven biennial contest (including the last three) you would expect Europe to be favourites but the Americans are. I think it’s going to be tough going for the Europeans but I fancy a small bet on a draw that would retain the trophy for Clarke’s side.
We now the line-up for the morning foursomes.
Spieth/Reed v Rose/Stenson
Mickelson/Fowler v McIlroy/Sullivan
Walker/Z Johnson v Garcia/Kaymer
D Johnson/Kuchar v Westwood/Pieters
Anyone fancy 2-2?