Archive for September, 2008

Here we go!

Friday, September 19th, 2008

To competing chants of “USA! USA! USA!” and “Ole, ole, ole!” from a raucous crowd at the 1st tee, the 37th Ryder Cup matches have begun.

The honour of hitting the first shot fell to double-major winner, Padraig Harrington. He hit a magnificent drive, putting the ball in the perfect position for his partner, Robert Karlsson, to attack the green. Phil Mickelson faced the onerous task of matching Harrington’s perfect drive and he rose to the occasion, hitting the ball a good 30 yds past where the European ball lay. What a start!

However, the European had the last laugh (at the first hole!) when Karlsson hit a superb iron shot to 10ft allowing Harrington to sink the putt. Kim’s approach shot gave Mickelson a 30ft challenge, which he couldn’t meet. First blood to the Europeans.

Friday's Foursome Pairings

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Following a long and sometimes painful opening ceremony, the pairings for Friday morning have been announced.

1. Mickelson/Kim vs Harrington/Karlsson

2. Leonard/Mahan vs Casey/Stenson

3. Campbell/Cink vs Rose/Poulter

4. Perry/Furyk vs Garcia/Westwood

The players on the US team who will sit out the first session are Holmes, Stricker, Weekley & Curtis. For Europe, Jimenez, McDowell, Hansen & Wilson will watch from the sidelines.

So, where's your money?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

The Las Vegas wise guys and European bookies agree – the European team are favourites to win the Ryder Cup. Only the Irish bookie Paddy Power is brave enough to go ‘odds against’ on the European team, all others see them as odds-on favourites. This is an unprecedented situation in Ryder Cup history as US teams have always been favourites on home soil. But having seen two very comfortable European victories, the bookies are taking no chances.

There are many wild and wonderful ways to speculate on this competition. Here are a few interesting wagers:

  • The US team are as big as 13/8 to lead after Day One. Even a 4.5-3.5 lead will do!
  • Sergio Garcia is the hot favourite to win the most points at 7/1. Some interesting alternatives include Anthony Kim (14/1), Justin Leonard (18/1) and Justin Rose (25/1)
  • Source of much controversy, Ian Poulter, is best-priced at 9/2 to be the top English points scorer
  • The odds of a hole-in-one are just 5/1. Seems quite low but then it appears that the Ryder Cup attracts the dramatic
  • If you think 7&6 would be the biggest winning margin, then 10/1 are your odds
For what it’s worth, my money is on the US to win at 13/10. Don’t expect my winnings to solve the global financial turmoil.

Press round-up

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

With all the players now well settled in Valhalla, it appears that every golf journalist in the world has followed them to Kentucky. In the absence of any significant news – no real clarity on pairings or no unexpected events – much of the focus is on good old-fashioned previews. Here’s a sample of some of the more interesting media outputs in the build-up to Friday’s competition:

ESPN’s Jason Sobel asks 18 pertinent questions, the first being ‘Can the US actually win this thing?’. The answer is yes.

The Telegraph have a fascinating interview with Paul McGinley which poses some questions about whether the European locker-room will have the winning dynamic of recent competitions. It seems they will have a drum kit though. And DJ Spoony.

In recent years, traveling sports teams have tended to prevent players from having ‘exclusive diaries’ in the papers. However, it seems that Justin Rose has a diary in the Times. No major revelations as yet. The most exciting news is that Ryder Cup is embroidered on their pillows and blankets.

The Ryder Cup is a global event. This piece in The Australian suggests that Tiger’s absence is, in fact, a good thing for the US team.

The local Louisville Courier Journal has the inside scoop on young Kentuckian JB Holmes. Will the passion of the local supporters be stirred by the presence of Holmes and Perry?

And if you that was a local spin, then how about this. The University of Kentucky has the exciting news that their Wildcat Marching Band will play at the opening ceremony!

Reflections on team selection

Monday, September 15th, 2008

As the teams gather in Kentucky, some final thoughts on the two teams..

  • All of the controversy generated by Nick Faldo’s wild card selections (as we more or less predicted) will be forgotten about if Poulter and Casey play their part in a European victory. Of course, the opposite is equally true. If Europe loses and Ian Poulter struggles then the press will be on Faldo’s back all the way to Christmas.
  • Talk of an English bias on Faldo’s part appears to be unfair. It is possible to make an argument that both Faldo and Poulter have very ‘English’ personalities and that Faldo would find some of Poulter’s strengths more appealing than, say, Olazabal or Monty might. But to suggest that Faldo showed national bias in picking Poulter over Clarke stretches the point too far. Remember that if Luke Donald’s wrist was in good shape, he would almost certainly have taken Poulter’s place. And he’s English too!
  • Many have argued that the absence of Clarke and Monty will mean that the team will lack leadership. This remains to be seen but it’s difficult to imagine that a team with players like Garcia and Harrington will be a rudderless ship. Garcia has been sensational as a Ryder Cup player and there’s no reason to expect that he won’t play a leading role once more.
  • Paul Azinger has played the local card with his selection of JB Holmes. At the press conference where his final team line-up was announced, Azinger pointedly highlighted the fact Holmes was a local boy and that he was a bomber (hits it long off the tee!) before mentioning his name. Anyone who experienced the visceral roar that greeted Darren Clarke’s arrival at the first tee in the K Club in 2006 will understand how local passion can create a magical dynamic.
  • With all the talk about the loss of leadership on the European side, the US team has no fewer than six rookies on board. Monty has advanced the argument this week that Europe’s victory in 2004 came down to the rookies delivering. It’s obvious that a US triumph in 08 will require a significant contribution from these new players.
  • As for which pairing combinations would work the best, well, let’s just say that those scientists at CERN with the 17-mile long accelerator have an easier job than trying to work out the Ryder Cup pairings…

US Ryder Cup Team 2008

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

The US Team for Ryder Cup 2008 is:
* Phil Mickelson
* Stewart Cink
* Kenny Perry
* Jim Furyk
* Anthony Kim
* Justin Leonard
* Ben Curtis
* Boo Weekley
* Steve Stricker
* Hunter Mahan
* J.B. Holmes
* Chad Campbell.

Azinger Picks Stricker, Mahan, Holmes and Campbell

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Paul Azinger has announced his 4 wild card picks to complete his team for next months Ryder Cup Matches at Valhalla. They are Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell.