Ryder Cup: Our staff predictions for Sunday singles
MEDINAH, Ill. – The highly anticipated Sunday pairings for Ryder Cup singles were released late Saturday night, and there are plenty of intriguing matches.
No, there isn't the Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy match many had hoped for, but McIlroy will play the on-fire Keegan Bradley early on Sunday.
Our staff of experts went match-by-match and had these predictions to offer:
• • •
11:03 a.m.: Bubba Watson vs. Luke Donald
SEAN MARTIN: Donald def. Watson, 1 up
Leading off with a win would give Donald an opportunity to atone for a sub-par Ryder Cup in his backyard.
NICK MASUDA: Watson def. Donald, 2 and 1
Watson has played well and is very creative. And Medinah is set up for bombing birdie machines.
JEFF RUDE: Donald def. Watson, 2 and 1.
Donald lives in the Chicago area, knows Medinah probably better than any player in the matches and played great down the stretch Saturday afternoon.
JEFF BABINEAU: Donald def. Watson, 2 and 1
Donald has a sudden jolt of confidence.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Donald def. Watson, 2 and 1
This should be a tight match. Donald makes amends for his Sunday collapse at the 2006 PGA by winning in his adopted hometown.
JIM McCABE: Luke Donald def. Bubba Watson, 2 up
Slow and steady wins the race out of the gates.
ALEX MICELI: Watson def. Donald, 3 and 2
Length is a hugh advantage at Medinah, and the course is set up to allow for the bombers to bomb away. The American team’s ultimate bomber is Watson.
• • •
11:14 a.m.: Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter
SEAN MARTIN: Poulter def. Simpson, 1 up
It's pretty hard to pick against Poulter after the close to Saturday's play. No lead is safe against Poulter.
NICK MASUDA: Poulter def. Simpson, 3 and 2
Ian Poulter is a stud. Period. I think he'll intimidate Simpson a bit.
JEFF RUDE: Poulter def. Simpson, 1 up.
Battle of birdie machines. Poulter closed Saturday with five in a row; Simpson birdied five of six during one Saturday afternoon stretch. Poulter thrives in the Ryder more than anyone since Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros.
JEFF BABINEAU: Poulter def. Simpson, 2 up
Ladies and gentleman, meet the Ryder Cup's new Monty.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Poulter def. Simpson, 2 and 1
Poulter proved he will run through walls for his teammates. He won’t come up short in the end.
JIM McCABE: Ian Poulter def. Webb Simpson, 3 and 1
OK, we get it. Poulter lives for this, so sit back and enjoy.
ALEX MICELI: Poulter def. Simpson, 4 and 3
Poulter is the Europeans’ man of the match. He is in the position to get a point and get in as quickly as possible to urge on the rest of the Euros. He lives for these moments.
• • •
11:25 a.m.: Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy
SEAN MARTIN: Bradley def. McIlroy, 3 and 2
He won't have Phil Mickelson with him, but Bradley thrives in big situations.
NICK MASUDA: Bradley def. McIlroy, 2 and 1
Going with the hot player here, and Bradley just seems to be eating up this atmosphere.
JEFF RUDE: McIlroy def. Bradley, 2 and 1.
Bradley is 3-0, but McIlroy is No. 1 in the world and his team desperately needs him.
JEFF BABINEAU: Bradley halves McIlroy
Big point for momentum; this one could be an absolute blast.
ADAM SCHUPAK: McIlroy def. Bradley, 1 up
This should be entertaining, but bigger picture: Can we please get rid of the blind draw beginning in 2014?
JIM McCABE: Rory McIlroy def. Keegan Bradley, 1 up
With all due respect to Mr. Woods, this is the matchup this event deserves.
ALEX MICELI: Bradley def. McIlroy, 2 and 1
McIlroy has had a rough go of it and finally is on his own, but Bradley has played brilliantly. Even though Bradley will be on his own and won't have Phil Mickelson by his side, the PGA champion should be just fine.
• • •
11:36 a.m.: Phil Mickelson vs. Justin Rose
SEAN MARTIN: Mickelson def. Rose, 2 and 1
He's without his sidekick, but he's on a roll.
NICK MASUDA: Mickelson def. Rose, 3 and 2
Mickelson has looked great; Rose hasn't. Pretty easy pick here.
JEFF RUDE: Mickelson def. Rose, 3 and 2.
Mickelson got a welcomed rest Saturday afternoon. Rose has played all four matches and hasn’t putted all that great, making only one birdie in Saturday four-ball.
JEFF BABINEAU: Mickelson def. Rose, 2 and 1
Mickelson is the better putter, and he is rested.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Mickelson def. Rose, 2 and 1
Philly Mick will stem the rally … or else we could be in for a historic U.S. collapse.
JIM McCABE: Phil Mickelson def. Justin Rose, 3 and 2
Left-hander puts a halt to the European momentum.
ALEX MICELI: Mickelson def. Rose, 3 and 2
Phil Mickelson is energized, and the charge should stay with him for one more match. Justin Rose has been battered and beaten in four matches over two days. Mickelson is fresher and has a better attitude, thanks to Bradley.
• • •
11:47 a.m.: Brandt Snedeker vs. Paul Lawrie
SEAN MARTIN: Snedeker def. Lawrie, 3 and 1
The FedEx Cup champion has represented himself well as a Ryder Cup rookie. Lawrie is 0-2 this week.
NICK MASUDA: Lawrie def. Snedeker, 1 up
Just a hunch, but I think the 40-something will give the Euros an early boost.
JEFF RUDE: Snedeker def. Lawrie, 2 and 1.
Snedeker is the best putter on the PGA Tour.
JEFF BABINEAU: Snedeker def. Lawrie, 2 up
Going with the hotter guy. Could be a key point for the Americans.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Snedeker def. Lawrie, 3 and 2
Winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup: $11.4 million. Winning a full point in Sunday singles: Priceless.
JIM McCABE: Paul Lawrie def. Brandt Snedeker, 2 and 1
The Scotsman sets his sights on playing in his native land in two years.
ALEX MICELI: Snedeker def. Lawrie, 4 and 3
Snedeker has played in two matches and is just learning how to get comfortable in Ryder Cup pressure. His ability to putt fast greens is the key to why he will win handily Sunday.
• • •
11:58 a.m.: Dustin Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts
SEAN MARTIN: Colsaerts def. Johnson, 1 up
This one, pitting two of the longest hitters here, will be fun to watch.
NICK MASUDA: Johnson def. Colsaerts, 2 and 1
This will be a long-driving contest, but I am going with experience.
JEFF RUDE: D. Johnson def. Colsaerts, 3 and 2.
Battle of the bombers. Johnson had top 10s in all four FedEx Cup playoff events and is 2-0 here.
JEFF BABINEAU: Colsaerts def. D. Johnson, 3 and 2
Great matchup of two bombers, with nod given to the hot Belgian.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Colsaerts def. D. Johnson, 2 and 1
I like the Belgian bomber to win this slugfest. No bonus points for being the long-drive champ.
JIM McCABE: Dustin Johnson def. Nicolas Colsaerts, 4 and 3
Kind of like having a home run derby in the middle of things.
ALEX MICELI: Colsaerts def. D. Johnson, 2 and 1
Dustin Johnson struggled on Saturday, and Colsaerts has been relatively steady, with the odd exception on the 17th hole. Length vs. length, but Colsaerts seems to be playing better.
• • •
12:09 p.m.: Zach Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell
SEAN MARTIN: Johnson def. McDowell, 1 up
McDowell could manage only a 1-2 record while playing alongside the World No. 1 for all three matches.
NICK MASUDA: McDowell def. Johnson, 2 and 1
Great match here, but I think that McDowell knows that he is one of the key matches to keeping fan interest for the rest of the day.
JEFF RUDE: Z. Johnson def. McDowell.
Two excellent putters here, but McDowell has been cold at Medinah.
JEFF BABINEAU: Z. Johnson d. McDowell, 3 and 2
The hero from Wales is struggling to find his game.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Z. Johnson def. McDowell, 1 up
G-Mac looks a bit off his game this week. Zach makes just enough putts to squeak out a full point.
JIM McCABE: Graeme McDowell def. Zach Johnson
Here’s a hunch that G-Mac finds his game, but perhaps a bit too late.
ALEX MICELI: McDowell def. Z. Johnson, 2 and 1
One half of the No. 1 duo on the European team has struggled at times, more it seemed from the lack of rest than anything else. McDowell was rested on Saturday afternoon, so expect the best from him on Sunday.
• • •
12:20 p.m.: Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia
SEAN MARTIN: Garcia def. Furyk, 1 up
Garcia is only 1-4 in Ryder Cup singles, but I think Europe's desperate position could bring out his best golf.
NICK MASUDA: Garcia def. Furyk, 2 and 1
Garcia played pretty well in the afternoon on Saturday, and he has the superior short game.
JEFF RUDE: Garcia def. Furyk, 1 up.
Furyk a better putter, but Garcia’s length should give him a slight edge here.
JEFF BABINEAU: Furyk def. Garcia, 2 and 1
Rematch from Brookline '99, where Furyk also prevailed.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Garcia def. Furyk, 2 and 1
A rematch of the 1999 Cup. Sergio will rise to the occasion, inspired by wearing Seve’s classic navy blue-and-white outfit.
JIM McCABE: Jim Furyk def. Sergio Garcia, 1 up
Not a format that has treated the Spaniard well.
ALEX MICELI: Furyk def. Garcia, 3 and 2
In the past, Garcia would have been the favorite, but it's 2012 and Garcia is not the same Garcia. Furyk struggled early in his match on Friday morning but played well since.
• • •
12:31 p.m.: Jason Dufner vs. Peter Hanson
SEAN MARTIN: Dufner def. Hanson, 2 and 1
Dufner is 2-1 this week, while Hanson has played just one match.
NICK MASUDA: Dufner def. Hanson, 1 up
Why Hanson sat both sessions today, I will never know. But I still think he'll go home 0-2.
JEFF RUDE: Dufner def. Hanson, 3 and 2.
It’s Mr. Unflappable against someone who sat out all day Saturday.
JEFF BABINEAU: Dufner halves Hanson
If Hanson plays well, Ollie will have to wonder why he hid him all week.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Dufner def. Hanson, 4 and 3
The Duf will steamroll Hanson in the most lopsided match of the day.
JIM McCABE: Jason Dufner def. Peter Hanson, 3 and 2
Hopefully that Poulter magic didn’t shake Dufner, because he has played splendidly.
ALEX MICELI: Dufner def. Hanson, 2 and 1
Hanson sat on Saturday. That is all you need to know about how well he is playing and what his captain thinks of his game.
• • •
12:42 p.m.: Matt Kuchar vs. Lee Westwood
SEAN MARTIN: Kuchar def. Westwood, 1 up
Westwood has looked shaky this week.
NICK MASUDA: Kuchar def. Westwood, 3 and 2
Westwood has looked horrendous this week. Kuchar is always steady.
JEFF RUDE: Kuchar def. Westwood, 2 and 1.
Westwood is No. 4 in the world but oddly has been MIA at Medinah.
JEFF BABINEAU: Kuchar def. Westwood, 4 and 3
Cue the crowd: Koooooooooch! Westwood just hasn't had it this week.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Kuchar def. Westwood, 3 and 2
Westwood has been a huge disappointment this Ryder Cup, and his shortcomings with the short stick will doom him here.
JIM McCABE: Matt Kuchar def. Lee Westwood, 3 and 1
Plenty of life with the American, very little with the Englishman.
ALEX MICELI: Kuchar def. Westwood, 4 and 3
Lee Westwood hasn’t played well in the playoffs or in the Ryder Cup. Fast greens are a difficulty for the Englishman, and Kuchar is just fine with them.
• • •
12:53 p.m.: Steve Stricker vs. Martin Kaymer
SEAN MARTIN: Stricker def. Kaymer, 3 and 2
This will pit two of the week's poorest performers. Kaymer didn't make a birdie in his Friday four-balls match.
NICK MASUDA: Stricker def. Kaymer, 5 and 4
This one will be a blowout. There is something wrong with Kaymer, which is why he sat all of Friday.
JEFF RUDE: Martin Kaymer halves Steve Stricker.
Kaymer has played one match; Stricker has been out of sorts.
JEFF BABINEAU: Stricker def. Kaymer, 3 and 1
The struggling Stricker, who can't buy a putt, drew a guy he can take down.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Stricker def. Kaymer, 3 and 2
Neither player has shown much form. Stricker is the better putter and wins the point.
JIM McCABE: Steve Stricker def. Martin Kaymer, 2 and 1
By now, the cup will have been earned, but too much pride at stake for Stricker.
ALEX MICELI: Stricker def. Kaymer, 2 and 1
It's possible that few if any of the Europeans could lose to Stricker the way he has played this Ryder Cup, but then he draws someone playing worse than him in Kaymer.
• • •
1:04 p.m.: Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari
SEAN MARTIN: Woods def. Molinari, 5 and 4
The Cup will likely be decided at this point. This is a rematch of Woods' 4-and-3 win two years ago in Celtic Manor.
NICK MASUDA: Woods def. Molinari, 6 and 5
The Cup will not come down to this match, but Woods will destroy Molinari here. Won't go home without a point.
JEFF RUDE: Woods def. Molinari, 3 and 2.
Woods beat him in Sunday singles, 4 and 3, at the last Ryder Cup. Molinari is steady, but Woods is a strong individual match player, having gone 4-1-1 in the Ryder.
JEFF BABINEAU: Woods def. Molinari, 5 and 4
Woods is 0-3, but he has played some pretty clutch golf down the stretch the last two days. Francesco pays the price.
ADAM SCHUPAK: Woods def. Molinari, 4 and 3
Hard to believe the U.S. leads 10-6 and Tiger hasn’t earned a point for his side. I can’t picture him going winless.
JIM McCABE: Tiger Woods def. Francesco Molinari, 3 and 2
Ditto, because there’s no way a team win will taste as good without at least one point.
ALEX MICELI: Woods def. Molinari, 2 and 1
Molinari could get payback for the drubbing he took in Wales two years ago to Woods, but it doesn’t seem likely on a golf course where the Italian seems to be overmatched.