Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ryder Cup Preview

People sometimes say, ReGripped what is your favorite golf event? Its probably the Masters given that you blog about it like a crazy person every year. Or maybe its the British Open because you love links golf and are a sucker for English accents? Or even it might be the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines because you love the views and the history of that course so much?

To those people I would say "yea but" to every option because my golfing Christmas, Fourth of July and Birthday all rolled up into one is the Ryder Cup. I have never been to a Ryder Cup but every two years I wish the ticket lottery would come up ReGripped.

The passion, the history, the team aspect of the Cup. Heck even the crazy fashions, I love it all! Some of my most prized possessions are Ryder Cup schwag that my dad bought for me back in the day, including my Oak Hill driver headcover, still holding up!

So OF COURSE, I am stoked about this year's contest at Hazeltine in Minnesota. Here is just a quick preview on how I think everything is going to go down this weekend.

1) The Course:
Hazeltine has a deep golf pedigree having hosted 2 US Opens and 2 PGA Championships but they aren't stuck in the past and are rather unique in their willingness to change the course over the years to make it even better. Changing par 3s into par 4s, redoing the bunkering, etc., Hazeltine keeps it fresh and keeps it interesting. Check out this link for all the changes done for this Cup.

Now one of the reasons the US is said to be favored in this Cup is the length of HNCC. The course can be set up for a wopping 7,628 yards with three par 5s over 600 yards! This is significantly longer than Gleneagles which came in at 6,815 and would tend to favor the long hitters of the US in Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler. However, don't count out Europe in the distance category as currently Rory is 10th on Tour in driving distance, Justin Rose is a surprising 12th and Sergio is hanging around in 28th. I think the margins are a lot closer than people are giving the US credit for but in terms of the course Slight Edge to the US.

2) Team USA:
For all the talk about the task force and shaking things up for this Team USA, Davis Love has captained this rodeo before and his picks of Kuchar, Holmes and Fowler were not unexpected. Holmes was on the last winning Ryder Cup and has crazy length. Kuchar has had a super solid season and Fowler, well has had a terrible season but rankings-wise a top golfer and a long driver so yea Davis went with him.

His best pick however is who is saved for last Ryan Moore. Not only has RM been a solid golfer for some time now but he is getting hot at the right time, exactly why the US holds the last pick until after the conclusion of the FedEx madness. That being said, I think the Euros were right to criticize the US selection process. Just pick the guys, no need to do it on primetime at a football game 5 days before the start of play. Still, Moore is the right pick and may end up being the difference in this Cup.

The rest of the team that made it on points are all solid players with DJ being the real standout this season. He is playing lights out and could potentially carry this team on his back alone. Spieth had a good but not great season and the same holds true for Zach, Lefty, Reed and the rest. This solidness is actually the US' greatest strength, they have a solid lineup up and down the roster and I think Europe would have a hard time finding weaknesses in the squad with the exception of Fowler. Roster = Solid.

3) Team Europe:
Europe just gets it done doesn't it? On paper for any given Cup you could say, well their top 5 guys are awesome but the rest, who the heck are they? Over the last few years I have found myself following the European Tour much more closely and have found myself appreciating the talent of these guys that you rarely hear of.

Rory, Stenson, Justin Rose and Danny Willet all had monster years which gives you another solid top of the team. However they also have guys in top form in Pieters, Matthew Fitzpatrick is a young gun who all he does is win or get top 10s and you have guys like Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan who you might not be familiar with but these guys are legit!

There is also something mysterious about Europe's team chemistry; they seem to have it and the US seems to lack it for some reason. Roster = Sneaky Good.

So how do I think it will all play out? In previous years before Europe's run of dominance, the US would get its lunch eaten by Europe on Friday and Saturday in the team competitions and then turn it on for Singles Sunday and win. I have a suspicion that is how this Cup will go. The Europeans work too well together not to be favored in the four balls and foursomes. However I think the US is too talented not to win heavily in the Sunday individual matches and probably squeaks out a win coming from behind.

USA Wins In A Nail-biter

* Photographs are owned by Getty Images and are used herein for news and commentary purposes only.

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