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.
It was captivating TV and I certainly felt bad for him. But this would only cost him a Ryder Cup spot if it happened the week before captain’s picks and it was clear a spot was on the line. Final-round bust-ups happen. He has a few more weeks to make a statement and in the process make the team.
Tiger has about 300 yards left to the green and he opts to lay up with an iron landing safely in the fairway. JT is a few yards ahead of Tiger in the same bunker and also lays up. Rory meanwhile has a lie that is much worse than it looked originally and is forced to lay up as well.
On 14 McIlroy misses the fairway to the left in another patch of snarly rough. JT and Tiger are OK. And Tiger misses it on the high side. Safely in for par though. Rory drops it from 12 feet for his first birdie. JT blasts from the sand to tap-in range. Woods next…
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.
McIlroy takes rip from the deep rough and comes up short — his ball is in one of the many deep bunkers at Bellerive. Woods from 217 yards from the deep rough on this par 4 and tree-trouble in front of him…and he takes a half-wedge and punches it back to the fairway. Nothing else he could do there.
Pete Bevacqua helped make the PGA of America far more modern in its approach to marketing planning and taking inventory in the broadest sense. He helped oversee a process by which the players could control the playing of the Ryder Cup and trained professionals could handle the business aspects.
I’ve only played Scottish links so that’s my answer. Then again even if I’ve played in Ireland my last two rounds were at Royal Aberdeen and St. Andrews’ Old Course. I’m flying high on the Scotland variety right now.
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.
Woods and Thomas are safely on this par 4 but outside 30 feet. Rory from 115 yards with a little tree trouble…and it’s a flyer that stays on the green maybe 30 feet above the hole. No great birdie looks from the group here.
Sleeper: Kyle Stanley. I had Stanley locked in as a sleeper last week; his runner-up finish at Firestone makes him slightly less sleepy but I like the way his ballstriking sets up for Bellerive. Plus there’s the added potential bonus of Stanley completing the Former Nike Staffer Without a Club Deal Grand Slam.
Rory wins and he wins big. Now that was my prediction before the Bridgestone where he had a little Sunday letdown (again) but he’s still my pick. It’s the kind of course McIlroy beats up and as simple as it sounds the guy is due. My sleeper is Keegan Bradley. After a few quiet years he’s playing better this season. Ballstriking game is solid dude just needs to make some putts!