It’s not the best spot for the United States to be, trailing 10-6 heading into the Sunday Singles of the Ryder Cup, but as I have said before the best chance for the United States to retain the trophy was to stay close enough heading into Sunday to use their depth.
Is it likely? No. But is it possible? Yes, it is.
It’s not unprecedented for a team to over come the four-point deficit as the United States did it in 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline when Justin Leonard sunk the improbable long putt to win it for the United States and spark a controversial celebration on the green before the European player had a chance to putt out.
Europe returned the favor in 2012, rallying on the final day at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois, stunning the Americans.
So as Jim Carrey said in Dumb and Dumber – “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”
It’s an uphill climb for the Americans, but it’s not impossible and I think the matches actually set up well for a chance to pull off the improbable comeback for the third time in Cup history.
If you breakdown the matches one at a time, it’s easy to see why the Americans have a chance. If you get caught in the entire scope of the comeback, it’s tougher to see.
Let’s run through the 12 matches in the order they will tee off. All times as PDT. I am going to look at each match individually without adding up the scores until the end and let’s see where the chips fall!
Justin Thomas (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy (12:05 a.m.): This match sets the tone for the day as the heart of the European side hopes to get the crowd and the rest of his team going. Here’s the key – McIlroy has been playing that well for a couple weeks and what the Euro’s hope Rory can do may backfire if Thomas stuffs it in his face. Prediction: Thomas will get it done and start the ball rolling for the Americans. Thomas 3 and 2.
Brooks Koepka (USA) vs. Paul Casey (12:17 a.m.): I think this is a big edge for the Americans despite that Casey has played well through the first two days. Koepka is a big-money player as evidenced by his two straight U.S. Open wins. The major with the toughest course conditions will not phase him and he will keep the U.S. ball rolling. Prediction: Koepka 4 and 3.
Webb Simpson (USA) vs. Justin Rose (12:29 a.m.): A tough one for the American’s and a timely one for the Europeans. The Euro’s need to stem the early American momentum and they should be able to do that here. Rose is one of the leaders and he will be the man here. Prediction: Rose 4 and 2.
Tiger Woods (USA) vs. Jon Rahm (12:41 a.m.): Redemption time for Tiger. Critics have been pointing to his lack of success in the Cup again and without sounding like a Tiger apologist – okay maybe a bit – his partners have not played well as all. Rahm is a budding superstar and should be one of the game’s elites for years to come but I think this stage is too big for him taking on the most popular player by a large margin, in the world. Prediction: Tiger 4 and 3.
Tony Finau (USA) vs. Tommy Fleetwood (12:53 a.m.): Arguably the key match of the day for an American comeback. Fleetwood is one of the now players in the world and has played great the last two days. Finau has arguably played as well as any American player in the Cup and has certainly has been one of the most consistent players in the world this year. Prediction: Finau wins it 1-up.
Dustin Johnson (USA) vs. Ian Poulter (1:05 a.m.): Another match where I think the American’s have a big edge. In fact, it’s the first of two straight matches that go big for the U.S. Johnson is the top ranked player in the world and while he hasn’t always played like it this weekend, he will find the way here. Poulter has been the emotional leader of the European side for some time, but he has lost a touch of his emotional hold as evidenced by his loss with McIlroy to Spieth and Thomas. Prediction: Johnson 3 and 1.
Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Thorbjorn Olsesen (1:17 a.m.): Spieth is fired up and ready to roll and you need look no further than his mocking of Poulter by pounding his chest three times after sinking the match clinching putt at the end of day two. The move brought a sly smile to the face of Woods, almost like an acknowledgment of, “I like this kid.” Prediction: Spieth 4 and 3.
Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia (1:29 a.m.): See comments on Johnson and Poulter. Garcia has been an emotional sparkplug for the European teams for awhile bringing that fiery Spanish persona to the table. But he has not been on the top of his game and Fowler has. Doubt Rickie and he will make you pay. Prediction: Fowler 3 and 1.
Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Francesco Molinari (1:41 a.m.): I would love to see Phil comeback here and get it done to silent all the critics, but I just don’t see it happening this week. Maybe next week in the Safeway Open in Napa, but not in Paris. Molinari since winning The Open Championships has been a new man and he keeps it going here. Prediction: Molinari 4 and 3.
Patrick Reed (USA) vs. Tyrrell Hatton (1:53 a.m.): If there is a player from the U.S. that needs a strong final day, it’s Captain America. Counted on for a big week, Reed has been no where near as great as he was two years ago. Let’s throw that out of the window here. I my not have been so quick to do that had this been another matchup, but I think Hatton, a Ryder Cup rookie will have issues taking on the reigning Masters Champion. Prediction: Reed 4 and 3.
Bubba Watson (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson (2:05 a.m.): Something is just not right with Bubba this week and there have been reports that he has not been feeling well. Capable of running off a big day, I just don’t have the best feeling, but Bubba can turn it on. Stenson is not the player he was just a couple years ago, but will that matter here? Prediction: Watson finds a way – 2 and 1.
Bryson DeChambeau (USA) vs. Alex Noren (2:17 a.m.): Until last week, DeChambeau was as hot as any player in the world. He has three bad rounds at the Tour Championship – although he did play well Sunday. He has been less than spectacular here and is taking on a player that has won over the course. It’s a tall order. Prediction: Noren 1-up.
Final score: Let’s see. Doing the math, I have the United States winning nine of the 12 matches and retaining the Ryder Cup with a final margin of 15-13. Remember this is breaking down each match independently of each other. For sure there are other variables to factor in, but I see the United States with a real chance to pull this off! I hope you make it through what should be an incredible round of singles.
By Dennis Miller