Friday, September 28, 2012
Closer look at Saturday's foursomes
By Farrell Evans
MEDINAH, Ill. -- After Day 1 of the 39th Ryder Cup matches at Medinah Country Club, the U.S. leads Europe 5-3.
With two points, Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson will be the morning headliners on Saturday in the foursomes session against Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.
They will come after Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson, who will kick off the morning at 7:35 a.m. CT against Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. Simpson and Watson, who sat out Friday's morning session of foursomes, had perhaps the most impressive win of the day with a 5 and 4 win over Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson. From the very first tee, the American duo energized the crowd and set the tone for their match.
Love is sending Simpson/Watson and Bradley/Mickelson in the first two groups because he wants the early morning crackling with emotion and excitement. That's a very smart move.
Let's look at all four of the Saturday morning foursomes:
Webb Simpson/Bubba Watson vs. Justin Rose/Ian Poulter
Simpson and Watson each made five birdies on Friday afternoon. Their enthusiasm for the moment matched the sharpness of their games. While their great play occurred in four-ball, their sound ball-striking should lend itself to a good performance in the foursomes.
Though Rose and Poulter beat the vaunted duo of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Friday morning foursomes, the European pair didn't play great. They will need to play much better to beat these Americans.
Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson vs. Lee Westwood/Luke Donald
Separately, Donald and Westwood didn't play well on Friday. Perhaps captain Jose Maria Olazabal hopes that they can find some magic together. But they are up against the wrong guys.
Mickelson hasn't looked this energized in the Ryder Cup since he was a rookie at the 1995 Oak Hill matches, when he went 3-0. His partner, Bradley, could be this year's undefeated rookie. The two friends are playing with a lot of emotion and heart, a wonderful combination at the Ryder Cup.
Westwood and Donald have the experience to overtake them, but with the partisan American crowd, it's going to be difficult to stop Mickelson and Bradley.
Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts/Sergio Garcia
Colsaerts had eight birdies and an eagle on Friday afternoon in four-balls, but on Saturday morning he'll be playing alternate shot. He needs Garcia to help him carry out the same mission he accomplished on Friday.
These two Europeans will be miles ahead of the Americans off every tee, but Dufner and Johnson are two players that have no trouble making birdies. They will stay in the fairway and give themselves good chances to make putts. This should be a very close match.
Jim Furyk/Brandt Snedeker vs. Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell
Furyk and Snedeker looked dejected and tired after losing on Friday morning to McIlroy and McDowell. But the Americans had good reason to be pleased with themselves after forcing the match to the 18th hole after being 3 down early on the back nine.
Rested after not playing in the Friday afternoon session, Furyk and Snedeker should play well on Saturday morning. Captain Love is smartly not putting them out first, as he did on Friday. They don't need that added pressure.
This time they will fare better earlier in the match against McIlroy and McDowell, who could be tired playing their third match in a row.
It should be a good show for the fans.