With two sessions of the 2014 Ryder Cup in the books, let’s take a look back and a look ahead. There isn't much of a reason to spend time on the Euros, as everything seems to be going relatively according to plan. There is much to debate regarding Team USA.
There is plenty of chatter regarding the inclusion of Simpson on the Ryder Cup team as the final captain’s pick by Tom Watson, especially when it came out that he was lobbying hard into the wee hours of the morning the night before the picks were made. I don’t have a problem with the pick for several reasons, and I don’t mind Simpson trying to talk his way onto the squad.
For starters, he was on the very short list of candidates anyway. The other names being considered were guys like Bill Haas and Brendon Todd. Notice I didn’t say Billy Horschel. Horschel was fresh off hitting a fat approach into the water at the par-5 18th at TPC Boston, choking away his chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship hours before the picks were due. Watson had no way of knowing that he would catch fire and win the next two tournaments, as well as the FedExCup.
The other reason I support the pick was due to his past record while partnered with Bubba Watson.
All that said, with his performance on Friday morning being as poor as it was, Tom Watson should keep him on the bench all day Saturday.
Spieth / Reed
This was exactly what the U.S. team needed. The veterans on the team are quite experienced at losing Ryder Cups, but Spieth and Reed are not. When they went out and won 5&4 in the morning fourball, Tom Watson had one job. Stay the hell out of their way. In his interview following the second session, Watson would not elaborate as to why he benched them. Perhaps it’s because he figured out (a little too late) that there really isn’t an acceptable answer.
Spieth and Reed may have very well gone out and lost 5&4 in the afternoon foursomes, but you have to give them that chance and live with the result.
Piggybacking on the Spieth / Reed comments, Ryder Cup rookie, Jimmy Walker, and emerged star, Rickie Fowler, battled as hard as any twosome on either team for two very important halves.
When I looked at the scoreboard as the foursomes matches were coming to an end, I couldn’t help but shake my head. Ryder Cup veterans Jim Furyk (don’t get me started), Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan had lost the first two matches, while Fowler and Walker were battling their butts off and Mickelson and Bradley were in the process of dropping their first points as a team.
WE ALREADY KNOW THAT FURYK , ZJ, MAHAN, KUCHAR, MICKELSON AND OTHERS ARE EXPERTS AT LOSING RYDER CUPS. LET THE NEW BLOOD TRY AND WIN IT!!!!!!
I absolutely hate what I see from Team USA for Saturday morning. Jim Furyk is 1-8-1 in fourball. WHY IS HE IN THE LINEUP?!?!?! He and Mahan have already lost to Donaldson and Westwood and they haven’t even been announced on the first tee yet. Terrible call. Even if they somehow win or halve the match, it's still the wrong call given Furyk's body of work.
I don’t mind the Bubba Watson / Matt Kuchar pairing, but I would have preferred for Keegan Bradley to have taken Furyk’s place with some combination of Watson, Kuchar, Mahan and Bradley in the fourball. Mickelson is clearly gassed.
I would have lost my mind if Spieth / Reed and Walker / Fowler weren’t heading out in the morning.
I prefer to see Mickelson sit out the whole day and be ready to try and win a point in singles. Simpson needs to stay on the bench as well, and I’m always a proponent for benching Furyk and his lousy record in any Ryder Cup formant. (He is 5-15-3 in Ryder Cup team formats and 9-18-4 overall.)
Anybody that looks like they are about to win a point before Tom Watson hands in the lineup card for Saturday afternoon should be on the course in foursomes in the fourth session. Of the players on the bench Saturday morning (ZJ, Mickelson, Bradley and Simpson), only ZJ and Bradley need to be on the course in the afternoon. Actually, “need” might be too strong of a word.
If Tom Watson isn't comfortable with Spieth and Reed as a foursomes tandem, then he could still split them up while keeping them in the lineup tomorrow afternoon. I would prefer Spieth playing with Kuchar and Reed playing with ZJ or Mahan as opposed to having them both on the bench.
Before we go, here’s a look at the fourball matches set for Saturday morning.
- Justin Rose / Henrik Stenson v. Matt Kuchar / Bubba Watson (Advantage Europe)
- Jamie Donaldson / Lee Westwood v. Jim Furyk / Hunter Mahan (Advantage Europe)
- Thomas Bjorn / Martin Kaymer v. Patrick Reed / Jordan Spieth (push)
- Rory McIlroy / Ian Poulter v. Rickie Fowler / Jimmy Walker (It will all come down to which Poulter shows up)
I don’t see a likely scenario where the U.S. does any better than a 2-2 tie in the morning. In fact, I could easily see a 3-1 or 3-1/2-1/2 blowout in play for the Euros.
As an American, this does not look good on paper or feel good in my gut.
I hope I’m wrong!