U.S. Ryder Cup Hopes Will Rest on Hot Pairings
Much can change with the Ryder Cup still 2 weeks away, but based on current form the United States team will need to find a couple of very strong pairings if they are to have a serious chance of winning. There are actually a handful of guys playing very well right now, although none are playing quite to the level of noted Ryder Cup ace Sergio Garcia. But as Tiger Woods can attest, fourballs and foursomes make even the very best golfers quite vulnerable.
Looking at the first two FedEx Cup events, there were five Americans who finished in the top 30 in both. Quietly, Justin Leonard has shown the best form of all with a pair of 7th place finishes. Jim Furyk has been nearly as good with a 12th and a 7th. Steve Stricker is rounding nicely into form with a 19th and a 13th, while Ben Curtis has continued his strong Summer with a 4th and a 27th. Young, budding talent Anthony Kim is also still a force to be reckoned with, finishing 12th and 27th. Captain Azinger needs to find the right veteran partner for Kim to allow him to freewheel, much like Garcia has done during the past 4 Cups. Even Hunter Mahan is shaping up with a 31st and a 15th. There are good teams to be made but they need two really hot ones. Long knocking birdie machine and local boy J.B. Holmes will likely make a tremendous fourball partner for somebody as he also has the benefit of knowing Valhalla better than anyone else playing. Excellent ballstriker Chad Campbell will make an obvious foursomes specialist.
You say that isn’t much to pin hopes on? Well, until very recently Europe has always hopped on the backs of a hot few, while hiding those not playing so well. And some of europe’s finest may be cooling off. Garcia’s incredible play aside, compare that to two-time Major winner Padraig Harrington and Captain’s pick Ian Poulter missing back-to-back cuts the last two weeks. Then, the other Captain’s pick Paul Casey followed his 7th place finish with a missed cut.
Even still, what probably worries Captain Azinger most is the recent lackluster play of World No. 2 Phil Mickelson and Kenny Perry, who spent the entire year in an effort to play here in his home state. If those two can get it going as well, the U.S. team will definitely have a chance in the friendly confines of Kentucky.
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JB Holmes and Kenny Perry, GOBs
Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan, Pimps
Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink
Chad Campbell and Boo Weekley
Justin Leonard and Jim Furyk
Phil Mickelson and Ben Curtis
Captain Azinger must be absolutely delighted at the results of the BMW Championship. All who've been playing well continued to play very well. Even Mickelson is finally showing signs of life.
A bit of a mystery man will be Stewart Cink. He has played extremely well the last Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup but has not played any inspiring golf since June. I don't see him playing more than once each day.
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