However, if there ever was a great reason to take a timeout from all of the fantasy worrying, poor betting and Tim Tebow-related headaches, Ryder Cup singles Sunday provides all of that and so much more. Lucky for me, I don’t have to choose. Literally the only perk to having to work a 15-hour shift at the station today is the fact that I have about, say, eight TV monitors to juggle my football and golf fixes (and the overtime pay is nice, too).
Entering today, the United States has a rather commanding 10-6 lead, needing only 4 1/2 points to reclaim the Ryder Cup. All 12 members of each team will have to go head-to-head against an opponent in match play format.
In Tom Lehman’s terms (see what I did there?), that means either the United States needs to win five or more matches, win four matches and halve won, or halve nine of the 12 match-ups to claim the title. As for Europe, who only needs 14 points to maintain their hold on the trophy, they’re forced into a situation where the either have to win eight or more head-to-head match-ups, or win at minimum four matches and halve the rest. It’s a very tall mountain to climb, either way.
As for the match-ups, there are some real doozies on schedule. That’s right. I said doozies.
Of all the match-ups on tab for today, both captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal have front-loaded the best first. While red-hot American and fan favorite Bubba Watson has the honor of going out first against former world No. 1 Luke Donald, everybody will have their eyes set on the heavyweight match-up of Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy.
Bradley has easily been the best golfer for either country this week and is yet to drop even a half a point in a match-up. Paired with Phil Mickelson for the best ball and the foursome play, Bradley has been fired up all the way through, but hasn’t let his emotions destroy his game. Instead, it’s been the exact opposite, as he’s seemingly playing his best golf of his young career. And yes, that is taking into consideration his PGA Championship he’s already won.
As for McIlroy, the current world No. 1, Team USA made it clear that their goal all week has been to limit his productivity. While Rory has come away with points in his match-ups against the United States, he has yet to be the best player in his groupings, highlighted yesterday when it was Ian Poulter and not McIlroy who rallied the troops to pick up a point in the afternoon sessions.
Speaking of Poulter, he is the clear emotional leader for Europe, and I hate him. I’ve mentioned this before in my previous piece on the Ryder Cup, but I just flat out hate Ian Poulter right now, mostly because I view him as the biggest threat standing in the USA’s way of winning. He snarls, he glares, he fist pumps, and he drains huge putts. Back off, guy. Cool your jets. You don’t come on my soil and push me around. We have problems, you and I.
Alright, moving on.
The other more intriguing story line on this final Sunday, of course, is Tiger Woods. Not so much that Woods is going up against Francesco Molinari, but that Davis Love III has basically taken Woods out of the final say as to whether the US wins or loses. Woods is anchoring the match-ups, teeing off last. With so little needed to clinch the Cup, it almost guarantees that whatever result Tiger walks away with, it’ll be pretty meaningless.
Look, there’s a very easy reason behind this decision. Prior to the back nine yesterday afternoon, Woods looked terrible. His drives were erratic, his irons inconsistent and his putting nowhere to be found. Yes, Tiger Woods has had himself a bounce back year on the tour despite not picking up a Major championship. However, he is clearly human and people can have poor weekends. This has been a poor weekend. Reputation doesn’t win you golf matches. Love is doing the correct thing here.
I’m not going to give match-up by match-up predictions on how I feel today is going to pan out, but I will say that, like everyone else, I will be stunned if the United States doesn’t close out as expected. The likes of Watson, Simpson, Bradley and Mickelson have been so good all week that it’s hard not to see at least three points coming from those four.
Nevertheless, today is going to be a real fun day of sports. Get comfortable, America.