WILL EUROPE’S RYDER CUP STARS STILL BE SMILING ON SUNDAY?
Rory and Co have a tough task ahead to retain the Ryder Cup
The 41st Ryder Cup is almost upon us. The battle at Hazeltine will commence tomorrow as the United States attempt to end a run of three consecutive defeats.
But before the first ball is struck we decided to assemble our own golfing experts to provide their insight and predictions as to who will emerge victorious in Minnesota. So please welcome to the first tee, Barry King, Mike Starling and Simon Pluckrose.
SHOULD THE SIX ROOKIES IN DARREN CLARKE’S SIDE BE A CONCERN FOR EUROPEAN FANS?
No, but let’s hope none of them BK: do a Webb Simpson in 2014 and top it off the first tee. I’m sure Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood will have their arms around them and if they can’t handle the pressure they shouldn’t be playing professional golf.
Yes and no. MS: The rookies may not have experience of Ryder Cups, so they may get overawed by the occasion if they need to sink a vital putt for example. But it will be down to Darren Clarke picking and pairing the right balance in the team.
Absolutely, the Ryder Cup isn’t SP: like any other competition. These rookies may be winners on the tour, however it’s not just the pressure they put on themselves but the weight of teammates, fans and a continent they have to cope with.
This means, half of Clarke’s team are effectively unknown quantities.
THE AMERICAN TEAM LOOKS STRONGER ON PAPER, BUT DO THEY HAVE ANY WEAKNESSES?
Playing as a team always seems BK: to be an issue for the Americans. Some of the players are arguably a little streaky in terms of consistency so they will need to find focus from somewhere. It will be about the pressure of MS: having not won for so long. Already Davis Love III has come out and said he has the best golf team ever, that may come back to haunt him. Their SP: achilles heel is going to be unity. In the past, the Americans have shown they struggle to work together as a unit. I don’t see Davis Love’s line-up this year being any different as there are a lot of egos in the red, white and blue corner.
WILL THE INCLUSION OF TIGER WOODS AS VICE-CAPTAIN BE A HELP OR HINDRANCE FOR THE US?
His weird beard will give us BK: something to talk about away from the golf, but I can’t see one positive of having him there for Team USA.
It will help the MS: US team because it may take away some of the spotlight from the oncourse action. He will be able to give some great insight.
I doubt Tiger will have much SP: impact on the course but his presence will give the cameramen something to focus on between shots.
WHO DO YOU SEE BEING THE VITAL PAIRINGS – OR INDIVIDUALS – WHO COULD SWING THE CONTEST IN THEIR TEAMS FAVOUR?
Zach Johnson and Jimmy BK: Walker could be the surprise danger men for the US – and the power of DJ. For Europe, they’ve got some great heads as vice-captains, then on the course, Danny Willett for me. He’s a grinder and won’t be beaten easily.
It will all come MS: down to who the rookies are paired with for Europe... Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson have a huge role to play. For the US the steady eddies like Zach Johnson, JB Holmes and Jimmy Walker will be key.
For the Americans, Dustin SP: Johnson will be vital. If their big gun can blast his European rivals off the
18 The age Al Balooshi started riding competitively
course then it could create a lot of momentum for his team. In the European side, it will be veterans like Westwood and Stenson who will need to prove their worth by keeping the nerves at bay of their rookie partners.
FINALLY, WHICH TEAM WILL TRIUMPH AT HAZELTINE AND BY WHAT SCORELINE?
At first I went with USA but I think BK: Europe’s vice-captains will talk their men into winning it and the team spirit will be rocking. Europe by 3.5 points Although I think the US have a MS: stronger team, I think Europe will retain the cup. But only by a couple of points. I would love to see another Europe win, SP: however I suspect that the US, on home soil, will be too strong for the visitors. And unless Clarke can keep a close eye on his rookies, the margin could be big.