So much of the build up to the impending Ryder Cup Matches
at Celtic Manor has been dominated by talk over the strength in depth of the
European side; how they could put out two sides worthy of competing. Well,
that’s all well and good, except for the fact that you don’t actually need two
sides, you need one. It seems obvious to state, but in fact of those 12 members
in each team, probably only half of them will play in four or more matches.
Suddenly the competition starts to take on a rather different complexion,
particularly given the fact that this year, America has six potentially very
dangerous players who will make up the crux of their side:
Dustin Johnson & Hunter Mahan (The
These two might just be the two best ball strikers in the world as things
stand, and both players come into the Ryder Cup in fine form.
Mahan has two victories on the PGA Tour this year, including a win at the
illustrious WGC Bridgestone Invitational. At Valhalla he
played all five matches and came out unbeaten. Johnson will be a
Ryder Cup rookie, but there is no simply no doubting his pedigree given his
amazing bounce back from a traumatic experience in the final Major of the year
at Whistling Straits. He also has two victories on the PGA Tour this year, and
will look to use his considerable strength in a bid to overpower opponents in
Steve Stricker & Matt Kuchar (The Reliables) – They say in golf that you drive for show and putt for dough. Well,
these two are living proof that it can really be the case; between them they’ve
won $8,816,462 this season. Kuchar seems to have woken from a
decade-long slumber of mediocrity with a swing that looks more suited to
baseball than golf, but boy does it produce results. And according to most
observers, Stricker carried Tiger Woods to a 100% record in last year’s
Presidents Cup, as he drained putt after putt.
Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelson (The Enigmatics) – I am not suggesting that these two be paired together. However, despite the fact that between them they’ve managed just a solitary top-ten performance since June’s US Open, Woods and Mickelson are still officially ranked at number one and two in the world respectively (at the time of writing). And the beauty of team golf, particularly fourballs, is that it allows players like Woods and Mickelson to go for broke whilst their inevitably steadier partners try to make the routine pars. It really is very difficult to know what to expect from these two at the moment, neither is playing well, but yes, you want them on your team. Every time.