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There was a lot of talk coming into this week’s Ryder Cup about how, as has been the case over the years, the ‘whole would be greater than the sum of the European team’s parts’ and that their greater ‘togetherness’ as a team when compared to the USA could lead them to upset the odds.
Sadly though, from a European perspective, this has not remotely been the case and barring a turnaround in today’s singles that would put even the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ in the shade, we are heading for a chastening defeat for Padraig Harrington and his 12 men.
Quite simply the European team hasn’t been good enough and – with the notable exception of the Spanish duo of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, rookie Shane Lowry and the gutsy Tyrrell Hatton – they have all underperformed. Rory McIlroy has been a shadow of the player we know he can be and the old guard of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey have all looked as though this is one Ryder Cup too many. The key putts have slipped by time and again.
So, what are we to make of today’s singles action? Well, the first thing to say is I just don’t see a Medinah style miracle on the horizon. From the European point of view their main aim will be to look to restore some pride by winning today’s singles session and avoid being the first European side not to win a session since 1975.
Team USA for their part will be fully focused on getting the three and a half points they need to win the trophy before then turning their attention to bettering the biggest winning margin of 18.5 – 9.5 since the event moved to being Europe, rather than GB&I, v the US in 1979.
Going down the match ups and Harrington has done the only thing he could do, go strong at the top and put his big names and best performers this week out early in the hope of getting some blue on the board to try to cause some nerves in the USA camp.
If the real Rory McIlroy stands up when he leads off against Xander Schauffele at 11.04am local time (5.04pm) then maybe we’ll see some early momentum. However this is a massive ‘if’ and the further we go down the match ups, the harder I see where the European points will come from.
The ceiling of 18.5 – 9.5 has been reached on three occasions in the past 40 years or so and I think once the Cup is secured, Team USA will retain focus and push to break this. With Paddy betting on the correct final score the result that appeals to me at the odds is 19.5 – 8.5 and I am happy to have a small investment here.
Looking at the matches individually and I will start by taking the aforementioned McIlroy on versus Xander Schauffele in the opening match. The duo have had contrasting fortunes so far this week, with Schauffele 3–0 from his outings while McIlroy is yet to even register a half point. Of course, the Northern Irishman will be desperate to change this, but he just hasn’t had even his ‘C’ game this week and I’ll take the American to continue his roll.
The one European I am happy to chance is Jon Rahm when he tees off against Scottie Scheffler at 11.26am local time (5.26pm). Scheffler has performed strongly on his debut and having reached the final of the WGC Matchplay earlier this year, we know he is more than comfortable in this format.
Rahm however is world number one for a reason and has looked on a mission so far this week and is unbeaten to date with a total 3.5 points from 4. I expect him to maintain that momentum and have too much for the American rookie.
Finally, and conscious that I want to focus on the earlier matches just in case of the small possibility that the USA take their foot off the gas when the cup is won, I will wrap up our treble by siding with Dustin Johnson versus Paul Casey at 11.59am local time (5.59pm).
Johnson has looked back to his imperious best this week posting a 4–0 100% record so far, and he is aiming to become the first USA player to go 5-0 since Larry Nelson in 1979. Casey has offered very little this week at all and I just can’t see him standing in Johnson’s way.
- Xander Schauffele to beat Rory McIlroy
- Jon Rahm to beat Scottie Scheffler
- Dustin Johnson to beat Paul Casey
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