The Ryder Cup preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Rory, Rory, Rory! Did you hear the US galleries cheering for the man against one of their own at the Tour Championship? They love that boy and so do we. The Love may not flow so readily this week though with the Ryder Cup creating clear divides amongst the crowds.
Besides Rory’s all round awesomeness the Tour Championship threw up some pointers.
Day – not in the Cup of course – is fragile and needs a break. Scott’s’ putting is a weakness. Dustbin really wanted the 10 big ones and all that cat like laid back ole boy façade is total BS – he bleeds just like the rest of us. Jordan’s short game is nullified when the rough bites. Hasletine will not have punitive rough. Jordan sunk some great putts and that will be a huge asset at the Cup, but tee to green he’s off – at the moment. If you think Jordan is beyond pressure hark back to his loss in the singles to McDowell when 3 up through 7. Ryan Moore is the quiet achiever with a suspect left ball under pressure but he can putt when required – and we know he has a deep match play pedigree. Bubba’s charm offensive didn’t work. Yes he’s a God fearing fruitcake but he has won two majors and not missed a cut all year and is the world number seven – but this counts for nothing it seems. He has made it as a vice captain and with Woods the US team would appear to have some polarising characters on the management side juxtaposed with Love who seems an old style dignified type – as he always has done. Not all Americans are boorish oafs; quite the contrary and the Ryder Cup while loud and out there will showcase the more impressive side of the Americans anyone who has ever dealt with them knows.
The consensus model being advocated by the US team will address some of the grievances aired at Gleneagles but as with all things Ryder Cup the result will invest the strategy and its proponents with a kudos that is hardly deserved. The team that wins will simply play better and not by a lot, rather by fractions. The event is so laden with ceremony and extraneous guff that the man who created it, Samuel Ryder, would he were to turn up, would be mortified to see how bloated the whole shebang has become. Don’t get me wrong I love this event but it might as well be “turn up and pick yer name out of a hat on the day and the next one is your partner” – and so much the better for it the event would be. Never going to happen of course. Much will be made of the influence of the Captains but really what do they do? Consider the evidence offered by the ex England Cricket Captain, Mike Atherton, an excellent writer in retirement. According to Atherton – post Paul McGinley’s canonisation at Gleneagles – the role of the Captain might well be overstated. He was at Medinah when the writing was on the wall for the Europeans on Sunday morning and the knives were out for Olazabal. Cue the European comeback (US collapse?) when out went the entire media pack’s attacks. On to Gleneagles and Watson was slammed for the US loss. Love was the US Captain at Medinah but he’s back presumably because the US recognises that the Captains role is perfunctory – he doesn’t hit any balls.
So now of course, based on rankings and home advantage, the US are odds on favourites. Yes they look better players but this is match play and they by and large struggled through the play offs. Rickie Fowler, a great player at his best, is struggling and has never won a Ryder Cup match. Black and white then? No. Fowler actually scored one of the best half points ever with four straight closing birdies at Celtic Manor to earn a half point at 21 but has come up against on fire players in all 3 formats – not least a rampant Rory. Contrast his thus odd looking Ryder Cup record with a stellar Walker Cup career. My point is this – again as Fowler himself alluded to – that the matches he’s been involved in, and overall, have been tight affairs across the teams and as such it could have easily swung the US’s way.
Where does this lead us for a wager?
Europe to win at $2.90.
Thomas Pieters to be Top Combined Points Scorer at $41.
Thomas Pieters to be Top European Rookie $5.50
5 units Europe to win at $2.90 with
Why? Simply that at 9/4 should Europe take a Day 1 lead or even a Day 1 Morning foursomes lead then their price will seriously contract and this affords us the opportunity to take a profit. A strategic wager reliant on Europe at some point being in front and sewing the seeds of doubt in the US Team and the market. Once the flannel stops and the play begins if the sunny uplands of the US Team’s new consensus approach to management, and their being “the best team ever” does not bear immediate fruit, then the doubts will creep in. Europe has a great record leading after Day 1 and even if they don’t – at some point, unless the US runs away with this – there will be an opportunity to green out.
1 unit Thomas Pieters to be Top Combined Points Scorer at $41 with
2 units Thomas Pieters Top European Rookie at $5.50 with
Fresh, young, in form and played out of his skin over two rounds with Clarke at the Made in Denmark. Clarke was also desperate to pick him and under the severest scrutiny he impressed. This market, which can be won with as little as 3 points, appears beyond Pieter’s rookie status which suggests he won’t get the matches required. And yet….Clarkes’ six rookies look to be all out of sorts to a degree – not Pieters. Of the rookies only Willet, himself hardly on fire, appears certain of the rookies to start the Day 1 Foursomes. Pieters though looks a great chance to be sent out for his shock and awe impact. He’s a special talent and crucially unknown by the Americans. What better way to unsettle your opponents that send out your Captain’s rookie pick? Clarke has five rookies foisted on him but he chose Pieters. If he wins in the morning, or even secures a half point, he’s back out there in the afternoon for the Fourballs. If at the end of Day 1 he has 1.5 points he is a certain Day 2 starter and now five matches are on the cards. Name a fresher more inform player than Pieters? He’s didn’t set the world on fire at the curtailed European Open but that’s hardly a shock given the excitement brewing around the Cup. He has also played a much more relaxed schedule than many of the US tem who bizarrely seemed to be hacking it around the play offs. Clarke has to unleash him and if he’s anything like he’s touted to be he could pick up the points required.