MEDINAH, Ill. — This is what the 39th Ryder Cup has come down to — full moons, Hail Marys and references to 1999 and Ben Crenshaw’s finger-wagging line: "I'm a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this."
We know that a comeback from 10-6 is possible because Crenshaw’s ’99 team did it, but that was against a team with three players who hadn’t seen a match all week, including Jean Van de Velde and Jarmo Sandelin. And European captain Mark James didn’t front-load his lineup with his best players even though he should have known Crenshaw would.
This feels nothing like 1999. Both captains have front-loaded. But credit Nick Faldo for pointing out on the Golf Channel that this is only the third Ryder Cup to finish beneath a full moon. The first was in 1975, when Brian Barnes beat Jack Nicklaus in singles – twice, in the same day. The second was ’99 and the Miracle at Brookline.
1. Bubba Watson vs. Luke Donald
The Wild Man vs. the Buttoned-Down Plodder. Bubba will have the crowd screaming during his tee shot, but Luke is an adopted Chicago resident, so he’ll have supporters, too. Donald plays the tortoise to Bubba’s hare.
Donald wins, U.S. leads 10-7 (Update: Donald wins, 2 and 1)
2. Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter
Simpson went on a birdie spree Saturday afternoon, but Poults was even better with clutch birdies on the last five holes to win a point and keep the Euros alive. What a treat to watch Poulter play.
Poulter wins, U.S. leads, 10-8 (Update: Poulter wins, 1 up)
3. Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy
Coming into this week, everyone wanted Tiger vs. Rory, but now Bradley is The Man for the American squad, so this is the marquee showdown. Rory won two FedEx Cup events and grinded at the Tour Championship, and he looks about gassed. Keegan rested Saturday afternoon. If McIlroy wins, captain Love’s going to be second-guessed for sitting Bradley and Mickelson.
Bradley wins, U.S. leads, 11-8 (Update, McIlroy wins, 2 and 1)
4. Phil Mickelson vs. Justin Rose
Rose has teed it up in all four sessions, and Mickelson will be well rested after hanging with Keegan on their Saturday afternoon off.
Mickelson wins, U.S. leads, 12-8 (Update: Rose wins, 1 up)
5. Brandt Snedeker vs. Paul Lawrie
Snedeker is well-rested and the best putter in golf. Lawrie was winless in two matches and managed only one birdie Saturday afternoon. Still, he finds a way to win this one.
Lawrie wins, U.S. leads, 12-9 (Update: Lawrie wins, 5 and 3)
6. Dustin Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts
This is a real sideshow, the Clash of the Titans. They’re two of the game’s biggest hitters, and Colsaerts has proven he’s got a complete game. His putting round Friday was one of the great performances in Ryder Cup history.
Colsaerts wins, U.S. leads, 12-10 (Update: Johnson wins, 3 and 2)
7. Zach Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell
G-Mac played so poorly that he was benched Saturday afternoon. Zach proved once again that he’s tougher than he looks. Give him a wedge or a putter, and look out.
Johnson wins, U.S. leads, 13-10 (Update: Johnson wins, 3 and 2)
8. Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia
Sergio birdied three of the first five holes Saturday afternoon and then didn’t do much else. Furyk is a crafty veteran who knows his game. Furyk out-putts him.
Furyk wins, U.S. leads, 14-10 (Update: Garcia wins, 1 up)
9. Jason Dufner vs. Peter Hanson
The Swede was so off form that he didn’t reappear after a Friday afternoon loss. Dufner is clutch, and his ballstriking will overwhelm Hanson.
Dufner wins, U.S. leads (and clinches), 15-10 (Update: Dufner wins, 2 up)
10. Matt Kuchar vs. Lee Westwood
Westwood shot 15 over at the Tour Championship and was clearly way off his game coming into this week. Kuchar carried Dustin Johnson to a key 1-up victory.
Kuchar wins, U.S. leads, 16-10 (Update: Westwood wins, 3 and 2)
11. Steve Stricker vs. Martin Kaymer
While Stricker has struggled as much as anyone on the U.S. side, Kaymer has been looking for his game for a long time.
Stricker wins, U.S. leads, 17-10 (Update: Kaymer wins, 1 up)
12. Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari
If the outcome rides on this finale, Tiger will win and this will rank as one of the most thrilling Ryder Cups in history. But it won’t matter, Woods will already be celebrating, and he’ll lose.
Molinari wins, Final Score: U.S. 17, Europe 11 (Update: Molinari and Tiger halve the match, Final Score Europe 14 1/2, U.S. 13 1/2, Europe wins the 2012 Ryder Cup)