Friday, September 22, 2006

Ryder Cup Preview

For the first time ever, the USA enters the Ryder Cup as an underdog. They earned it by getting blown out in the last Ryder Cup two years ago and having four rookies on their squad this time.

Excepting Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, the US players are off form. However, several Euros are playing well, and they always seem to bring their best to the Ryder Cup.

I thought the Euros would upset the US in the last two Ryder Cups, and they did. This time, the Americans will get their revenge. Here is why:

- Captain Tom Lehman and assistant captains Corey Pavin and Loren Roberts are tough as hell.
- With several veterans not on this team, Tiger Woods has stepped up as a team leader.
- Tiger is white hot and has finally found a perfect partner in Jim Furyk.
- Phil Mickelson will pair very well with fiery Chris DiMarco.
- The Euros chose a US-style course as the venue (a rich guy bought hosting rights for a reported 20 million pounds)
- The one ball rule is not in effect, opening up some new pairings in the fourball matches.

The opening match pits Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk against Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie, Europe's greatest Ryder Cupper. A win for Tiger and Furyk will set the tone for the rest of the matches. I hate to say that a 28 match competition hinges on one match, but it is huge.

I expect Tiger and Furyk to get a close win. They should be paired four times and get at least three points. That will help the US be at least even after the first two days.

Golf is almost always an individual sport whose competitors are paid on their performance in a given week rather than past accomplishments. This week, golfers play for their team and country with no financial reward. That causes emotions to run high among players and fans.

All of this causes The Ryder Cup to be one of the premier events in all of sports. I can't wait.


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