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Day One was, I think, a real surprise to everyone. The US hasn’t done that well on the first day in many years, and that they did it absent the guy with the bum leg makes it even more amazing.
Or not. I’ve had a theory (expressed earlier) that they might very well do better without the striped one. The media circus is intensified with his presence, and I think perhaps the other players have leaned on him too much.
Hunter Mahan, with two points, certainly has justified the Captain’s Pick at this point. I am still shaking my head at the Justin Leonard – Mahan victory over Garcia and Jiminez. When I first saw that matchup, I thought that it was going to be a blow-out—in favor of the Spanish Armada. But Mahan played well, and Leonard provided some real golf heroics.
As far as Europe goes, it was a disaster. Only a terrible tee shot on 18 by Kenny Perry in the foursomes prevented the day from being a total rout. Johnny Miller has commented several times that Faldo made a mistake in not taking Monty and Darren Clarke. He might be right.
Day 2 Thoughts
With a 9-7 advantage, historical results say that the US should be in the driver’s seat. Over the past several Ryder cups, the US has done better in individual matches than it has in Foursomes and Four Ball. The theory has always been that the US players are better individually, while the Europeans are better at team events.
Saturday was not nearly as decisive as Friday, but the Europeans managed to win just three of eight matches. To be sure, the US won just two, but since they held a considerable lead going in, that was enough.
The JB Holmes – Boo Weekley pairing was genius, as was Justin Leonard – Hunter Mahan. Those guys played as well together as anyone could have hoped.
Garcia is not providing the spark that he has in previous Cups. He gets a pass, though, if he’s ill, as the announcers have suggested.
Mickelson is the other disappointment thus far. I would think that with his creativity and get-out-of-trouble skills, he would excel in these formats. But he’s been much less than, say Mahan or Holmes.
The real under performers on the US Team have been Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker. Curtis played his way on by virtue of a few good finishes at the end of this season. Stricker was a Captain’s pick—he would have been a better pick LAST year, when he finished 1, 2 or 3 four times in tournaments; this year, the magic was a bit gone, as he did that just once. In any case, those two have just half a point each.
Right now, on the American side, Mahan is the MVP, with 3 points.
For the Europeans, there are a host of disappointments, with Harrington leading the way. Possibly the best player in the world right now, Harrington has managed just half a point in the first two days.
He’s not alone. Hansen, Jiminez and Casey also have pulled out just half a point.
The Europeans would be completely out if it if not for the heroics of Ian Poulter, who has scored three in four matches. Poulter is the European MVP right now.
Johnny Miller has harped on this point, but I think he may be right: the European team misses Monty and Clarke. This is just not the same collection of players who have managed to dominate the US over the past two decades.
I expect Sunday’s individual matches to be quite interesting, especially Kim-Garcia and Furyk-Jiminez. On paper, the Stricker-Poulter match looks like a mismatch.
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