Ryder Cup – Friday Morning Fourball Match Preview

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

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So what should we see in Friday mornings fourball matches?

It’s always great to get that big start and for many winning the first session is important.  But in the last three years, the American team has won 2 of the 3 with the other one halved.  But the Europeans won two of those three Ryder Cups, so there really isn’t much to winning.

It will be important to get off to a good start.  Just look at the keys that the European Tour has dominated us, guys like Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose getting the best of us.  It’s got to be the vision of captain Tom Watson that anyone playing against these three have to pull in a Hercules effort in beating them.

Let’s look at the four matches for some clues.

First I can see Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson beating Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.  Rose is 1-2-0 in fourball while Henrik is 0-1-1.  But Bubba is 3-1-0 and Simpson is 2-0-0.  Oh, Bubba and Webb have played together in three matches and have a 2-1-0 record.  So this match is really a tosh up.

But as I said before, Justin Rose is probably on Tom Watson’s hit list as a player that has to go down early.  If Rose loses, he will lose some of his drive and confidence and that is important.

I see this match turning into a draw with both teams getting a halve a point.

Match two has Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer playing Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.  Both American players have spunk but I think that Bjorn and Kaymer bring lot’s of experience and will take them down. Bjorn is 2-0-0 in fourball while Kaymer is 2-1-0, both great records.  Walker is playing for the first time with a partner that has a 0-1-0 record in fourball.  Sorry but Kaymer and Bjorn will be a winner and probably will end it by the 17th tee.

Match three has Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter playing a pair of rookies, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.  Gallacher is also a rookie but Poulter is not.  This match falls in Poulter’s lap, he is going to need to help his partner and win.  Despite Spieth and Reed’s game not being sharp coming into this week, I see blood in both players eyes because they both know how important it will be to beat Poulter.  One thing you can bet on, Spieth and Reed will be leading through the first nine holes, but watch for Poulter turn on the afterburners on the back.  Remember what I say, America has to contain Poulter, Rose and Garcia so a American upset will start things off right.

Look for a tough match with Spieth and Reed doing the deed.  Now historically we haven’t seen many pairings of rookies playing together in the first match of the Ryder Cup.  The last time we saw this was when Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton played Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington in a fourball match the first day in 2010.  Bubba and Jeff won 3 & 2 so things like this has happened.

Match four has Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy playing Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.  You look at this and sense a European rout, gosh McIlory has played great all summer and Garcia has had a good year.  Mickelson has been a basket case and Bradley hasn’t been much better.  I don’t see any hope for the Americans in this match, despite this being the last match off I see this being the first one to finish with Europe winning the points.  Of course Mickelson and Bradley have a great record together, in seven Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches they have a 5 win, 1 lose and 1 halve record, so who knows a miracle could be out there, but I am not winning to put any pounds on this match with the local better parlor here in Scotland.

So my score has the score being 2 wins for euros, 1 win for the Americans and one halve match.


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