U.S. eyes fast start to seal Ryder Cup

And which Sunday singles match will prove most exciting?

Originally Published: September 29, 2012
ESPN.com

After four sessions and 16 matches, the Americans hold a solid 10-6 advantage heading into the 12 Sunday singles matches at the 39th Ryder Cup.

The U.S. only needs 4½ points on Sunday to bring back the cup to this side of the Atlantic. Can they hold off the Europeans and win the biennial matches for the second time in three years?

Our experts tackle those topics and more in our latest edition of Ryder Cup Four-Ball.


1. What does the U.S. need to do to win back the Ryder Cup on Sunday night?


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The U.S. needs Bubba Watson to win the first match and set the tone early, then hope Keegan Bradley can get at least a halve. Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner should take it from there, but Tiger is the safety net.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The Americans need to win their first five matches on Sunday. Captain Davis Love III is putting his horses out early hoping to finish this thing quickly.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It needs a combination of 4 points, and the best way to accomplish that is to get it over with early. Some of the strongest matchups are early Sunday, and it would make life much easier for the Americans if some combination of Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson were to win two of the four matches. That makes it very difficult for Europe's remaining players to overcome the deficit.

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: It's simple: don't choke. Team Europe won't make it easy, but a four-point lead makes it semi-impossible for the USA to screw this up.


2. Which Sunday singles match are you most looking forward to watching?


Michael Collins: Keegan Bradley versus Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson versus Nicholas Colsaerts. Those two matches could be pivotal for either side and all four have been playing really good golf. If full points come from those matches and they're not halved, it will be the momentum swinger in either direction to victory.

Farrell Evans: I'm paying particularly close attention to the Bubba Watson/Luke Donald opening match of the morning. Donald played well in the afternoon on Saturday. If he can slow Bubba down and the crowd that follows him, it might have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the matches. For once this week, the Europeans might start applying the pressure.

Bob Harig: Dustin Johnson-Nicolas Colsaerts. DJ has met his match off the tee, and as it is the seventh match of the day, it could be a crucial one.

Gene Wojciechowski: Keegan Bradley versus Rory McIlroy. Dustin Johnson versus Nicolas Colsaerts is going to be a gas, too.


3. Who's the MVP of each team through two days of matches?


Michael Collins: Poulter for the European side. Undefeated and he is carrying the team on his back. If the Europeans win, he better get a statue. For the U.S., Keegan Bradley is the MVP, also undefeated and bringing the energy not only to his teammates but to the crowd. He has made Phil Mickelson play again like he was in his 20s and has rocked holes with pure emotional releases.

Farrell Evans: For the Europeans, Ian Poulter has earned three points. He's been the anchor and emotional leader of the team. For the U.S., Keegan Bradley has been the spirited leader, helping elevate his mentor Phil Mickelson's game in ways that we haven't seen often from him in his long Ryder Cup career.

Bob Harig: No question, Ian Poulter for Europe, Keegan Bradley for the U.S. Both are 3-0, both have given their sides a spark. Poulter is simply remarkable in the Ryder Cup.

Gene Wojciechowski: A rookie doing what Bradley's done? Amazing. And there ought to be a Ryder Cup statue of Poulter.


4. Which player on both squads has been the most disappointing so far?


Michael Collins: Martin Kaymer for the European team. He played the Friday four-ball matches, made zero birdies and sat all day Saturday. No one quite knows where his game has gone since winning the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but it didn't show up this week for the Ryder Cup and it is costing his team dearly.

Steve Stricker for the U.S. I feel bad for the guy because he looks like he's grinding hard and getting nothing out of his game. He didn't get his first birdie until the fifth hole on Saturday in four-ball. He's going make a great captain someday, but his Ryder Cup playing days are gone.

Farrell Evans: Tiger is 0-3 in the matches. No matter how you slice it -- foursomes and four balls -- he's played too long and too well to play this unevenly in the Ryder Cup. On the European side, Lee Westwood, the No. 4-ranked player in the world, is playing in his eighth Ryder Cup. He is 1-2 in the matches but he got that win with Nicolas Colsaerts, who had eight birdies and an eagle in four-ball on Friday. With Westwood's experience and Ryder Cup record coming into the Medinah matches -- 16-11-6 -- you expect Westwood to be the team leader.

Bob Harig: Lee Westwood for Europe, Steve Stricker for the Americans. Westwood has looked lost on the greens and as Europe's most experienced player, most is expected of him. Stricker is 0-3 with Tiger Woods, but at least Woods managed 12 birdies over the past two afternoons. Stricker had a chance for some redemption Saturday but lipped out a birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have gained him and Woods a tie with Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald.

Gene Wojciechowski: Steve Stricker for the USA, Westwood for the Europeans. There's only one point won between the two of them.