I love the Ryder Cup – it represents some of the best viewing and general sports and betting banter to be had anywhere in the year. There’s something special about a tournament where a load of guys who spend their sporting lives ploughing lone furrows are asked to act as a team; and where they draw their inspiration and strength from to perform.
There’s no doubt that the Ryder Cup phenomenon in the European team is Ian Poulter. No-one is inspired more by this competition, and his results show it – 11 wins from 14 overall and 3 from 3 in the singles. He closed with 5 consecutive birdies yesterday to win his fourball match by one hole, engaging in extreme fist pumping and whooping as he went.
Despite this amazing record I have a problem backing him today – it feels like he popped his champagne cork yesterday and I don’t think he would have slept well after such an exciting day. Contrast this with the calm, godfearing Webb Simpson who tied up his match nice and early yesterday and would no doubt have headed off quietly to concentrate his mind on the singles. I’d expect Simpson to be more in the zone than Poulter today.
Going into the competition I thought Keegan Bradley was an interesting prospect for this type of competition. He is the type that needs to draw on positive energy to give his best – he was pumped when he won the PGA – and he has made comments to suggest he loves his country. His swing scares me – he looks like a man playing with childrens clubs – and I’d be worried about his back in the long term. He can play a bit loose and may not be so good in the singles – I suspect he’ll finally run out of steam against McIlroy today. I don’t think it will be a tie – it feels like the sort of match where someone gets on top and pulls away.
If there is a match to end all square then McDowell/Johnson looks favourite. These may not be the two most naturally talented players in the competition, but they are two of the most gutsy, and there will be no quarter given in this match. It may go to the wire, and if it does 11-2 feels like a good price for the tie.
In the final match Tiger Woods heads in to it with a rather embarrassing tally of 0 points from 3 matches. It may be that Woods is not as inspired by this competition as he once was – he hasn’t had an easy time of it in the American press in recent years and may not be drawing on the same positively charged oxygen as others in the team. He really won’t want to be 0 from 4, and it may be the stick and not the carrot that brings out the best in him today. I think he will win.