On the par-3 13th Woods knocks one to about 15 for a good look at birdie. Rory finishes with twirl and his ball settles about 10 feet away. JT misses the green. JT drains it to drop to -2. Woods gets back to +2.
The U.S. seems strong but it’s worth mentioning that a few guys who look like solid bets to be on the team — Bubba Webb and Tiger to name three — haven’t had much success in the event. I think it’s a coin-flip as most Ryder Cups are these days. But in the meantime keep talking Monty! It only adds to the anticipation.
On the 241-yard par-3 16th McIlroy and Thomas find the green but not close to the hole. Woods overcooks and iron long and left and it settles next to the grandstand. Thomas kicks in his third birdie of the opening nine and he’s tied for the lead and looking totally in control. McIlroy pars to stay -1.
Monty’s claim was enough of a hedge (“Well almost ever”) that I wouldn’t bother trying to refute it. And I agree that the Europeans are very very strong this year. And that their strength has been overlooked/downplayed amid the hype surrounding all the youthful talent the Americans will field. Sometime ago our own Alan Shipnuck boldly predicted a U.S. romp. I disagreed with him then and I disagree now. I expect this to be close and I expect Europe to win.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Scotland several times but have only hit Ireland once. I just love the history and the quirkiness of the old Scottish links. They’re an absolute blast. But Ireland’s sweeping dunescapes took my breath away. It’s a tough call. To make it I need another trip overseas for more research.
And Tiger pours it in! That was a heck of a par. He even smiled at that one. He’s still +2. Woods from the left trees 70 yards away. And the shot clips a limb…and lands next to cup! Wow that was almost a disaster but instead it coziest past to about 7 feet. That’s for a par save.
Are they all pulling the same direction in the grow-the-game efforts? There’s a lot of good happening in that organization but with that membership number there’s plenty more to be done. They should be one of the most powerful and influential forces in the game. At this moment I’m not sure they are.
I’d say any European team that had Seve Faldo Langer Lyle and Woosnam would likely be better than whatever 12 players the Europeans assemble this year.
Rory. The driving game he showed in Akron for one thing. Also how long can you keep a good man down? Sleeper: Bryson. He’s earned his place in the darkhorse category because of the talk around him. Example: he’s choking his way off the Ryder Cup team (some people will say) he had a fit of driving-range craziness (some will say) at the Open and he was classless and looked lost (some will say) in the final day in Germany.
So as we make the turn to No. 1 Tiger is at +2 JT remains tied for the lead at -3 and Rory is at even par. All right! Tiger drains his birdie to get back to +2 through his first nine. JT misses his birdie and settles for par and Rory takes a bogey.
Sleeper: Muscular Kiwi Ryan Fox is one of the biggest hitters on any tour and when he keeps it in the park he can contend anywhere. Quietly he’s climbed to ninth on the Race to Dubai points list and 80th in the OWGR thanks to a playoff loss at the Irish Open and a T6 at the Scottish Open.
: Rory. Not only has he won two PGAs he’s finished T5 and T2 in two of the previous three majors this year. I was inspired by his Sunday afternoon charge at Carnoustie and the timing just seems right for him to win another major.