Ryder Cup Preview: Fourballs
Our 2012 Ryder Cup Preview continues with a look at the Fourballs and who holds the advantage based on previous experience. Fourballs are all about birdies. With both balls in play it is very rare for a hole to be won with a par so consistent golf is not the aim in this format of the game. The attacking golfers will be raring to be unleashed in this format but first lets take a look at the history of those who have played in more than one Ryder Cup:
EUROPE: One of the most notable changes from the foursomes is how few fourballs Luke Donald has played in – just two matches compared to 6 foursomes matches. Garcia and Westwood again have good records but certainly not as good as their foursomes records. Poulter is also clearly fallible in this format but it would be a big shock not to see him in action as he can inspire his partner like nobody else.
Expect Olazabal to utilise his big guns for the fourballs but wary of burn out if they play all five we can expect to see most of this European team get a go in the fourballs.
Colsaerts and Westwood would make an obvious partnership with the young Belgian’s birdie making ability neatly tied in with the more consistent Westwood.
McIlroy and McDowell are another obvious partnership with the two good friends with great camaraderie. This time around, it will be McIlroy who is the senior partner and European fans will be hoping his new found maturity will bring out the best in him.
Poulter and Rose will expect to play together after their good showing in 2008 together. Rose has found a rich vein of form this season and his second place the Tour Championships combined with Poulter’s ability to raise his game should make this a strong pair.
Garcia is the real floater having been extremely successful in this format. It is hard to know who he will play with but I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Donald team up.
For the four European tour players remaining: Lawrie, Hanson, Molinari and Kaymer it is easy to see them paired up with Kaymer and Hanson the most likely partnership allowing the experienced and consistent Lawrie to play with the pure ball striking abilities of Molinari. A player like Harrington would have been fantastic to bring out the best from Molinari as he did for Ross Fisher in 2010 but it is not to be.
Z. Johnson: 1-0-0
USA: Jim Furyk’s numbers make tough reading for Davis Love III and it would be take a brave man to pick him for any of the fourballs given his record of only one win from ten matches. Tiger will be important in the fourballs and we can expect him to play in both as this is his best discipline other than singles. Mickelson has historically featured heavily in the fourballs but again it would be something of a shock to see that repeated this time around.
It would be staggering to see Mickelson and Furyk line up in the fourballs when the US team has the quality in depth that it does. Mickelson’s recent form and Furyk’s Ryder Cup record should rule them out and with Woods and Stricker likely to pair up that leaves Zach Johnson who won his only fourball back in 2006 and would be a doubt to feature much more this time around.
Luckily for Davis Love III the remaining players should all relish the challenge of fourballs. Kuchar and Watson would make a dangerous pairing with the consistency of Kouchar allied with the birdie making ability of Bubba.
Simpson and Bradley would be another birdie making team with the former number two on tour for birdies made whilst Keegan Bradley’s length and gung-ho attitude will make him a feisty competitor.
Jason Dufner’s lack of experience in matchplay may see him join up with someone like Zach Johnson or Brandt Snedeker who can be relied upon for their consistency and allow Dufner to play his own game and ease his way in to the Ryder Cup. Alternatively Snedeker could play with Watson and allow Kuchar to partner Dufner.
Davis Love III has some big decisions to make but they are definitely the stronger fourball team.
USA 5 ½ vs. 2 ½ Europe