The predictions are in! Here’s how Sunday singles should go in a tight and emotional final day at the 2018 Ryder Cup

September 29, 2018

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — It all comes down to this: 12 head-to-head matches on a tight, cool and breezy golf course. Through two days, the ballyhooed U.S. squad has yet to play to its collective potential. Blame the weather, blame the golf course, blame the pressure, or create your own blame – plenty of blame to go around! But the team still has a chance. The U.S. needs to win eight of a possible 12 points to eek out a 14-14 draw and haul the Cup back to the U.S. Four-point comebacks have happened twice before (Brookline ’99, Medinah ’12). Will this team become No. 3? Here’s how we see each match unfolding. (Player records this week in parenthesis.)

MATCH 1: Rory McIlroy (2-2) vs. Justin Thomas (3-1)
For the second straight Cup, McIlroy leads off for Europe in singles, and for the second straight Cup, he draws America’s hottest player. Rors is 2-1-1 in singles, while Thomas makes his debut. If the U.S. is going to make it interesting, they need JT to deliver here. I think Sunday is going to be very, very interesting.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 2 and 1

MATCH 2: Paul Casey (1-1) vs. Brooks Koepka (1-2)
Casey has had a nice week, as he and Tyrrell Hatton led their Saturday fourball session with nine birdies between them. Koepka hasn’t quite brought his best this week. Not sure it’s coming.
PREDICTION: Europe wins, 3 and 2

MATCH 3: Justin Rose (2-1) vs. Webb Simpson (1-1)
Simpson was fantastic on Saturday, and a few people who know golf architecture better than I do have loosely compared Le Golf National to TPC Sawgrass. Who won the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass by four shots this year? Webb Simpson! But he’s got a tough draw here. Rose is 2-1-1 in singles, and he’s also looked good in his three matches. Here’s something strange: There hasn’t been a match halved all week. Only two contests have even reached the 18th hole. That can’t continue, can it?
PREDICTION: Match halved

MATCH 4: Jon Rahm (0-2) vs. Tiger Woods (0-3)
Given their records for the week, both guys will desperately want this one. For all his woes in the Ryder Cup (13-20-3), Woods has a sterling record in Sunday singles (4-1-2). Saturday afternoon Woods described himself as “pissed off.” Am I going to bet against the best match-play golfer in history when he’s angry? I am not.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 3 and 2

MATCH 5: Tommy Fleetwood (4-0) vs. Tony Finau (1-1)
Fleetwood takes a run at history, as he can become the first European to go 5-0 in a single Cup. Finau has had some nice moments in his two matches, but it’s hard to see Tommy cooling off. He’s the star of the show this week.
PREDICTION: Europe wins, 2 and 1

MATCH 6: Ian Poulter (1-2) vs. Dustin Johnson (1-3)
Poulter is still part of the heartbeat of this team (to say nothing about all the times he’s thumped his heart while celebrating birdies). And he’s unbeaten (4-0-1) in Sunday singles. Yikes! But underneath DJ’s apathetic exterior lies a match-player killer: he’s 3-0 in Ryder Cup singles. Double yikes! Something has to give. (And we already used our tie.) I think Poulter tastes humble pie.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 1 up

MATCH 7: Thorbjorn Olesen (0-1) vs. Jordan Spieth (3-1)
It looks like a mismatch on paper, but Olesen actually played OK Friday morning in his only session. He had all of Saturday to prepare himself. I think he’ll play well, but Spieth has found his putting stroke, along with his killer instinct.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 4 and 2

MATCH 8: Sergio Garcia (2-1) vs. Rickie Fowler (1-2)
Sergio was a revelation in his two victories this week, more than justifying his selection to the team. But is it me, or did Serge look a little gassed Saturday afternoon? He’s 3-4-1 in his singles career. Rickie (1-1-1 in three singles matches) comes in rested and ticked off at his record this week.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 3 and 2

MATCH 9: Francesco Molinari (4-0) vs. Phil Mickelson (0-1)
Poor Phil. He was a mess Friday afternoon, and Saturday he sat a full day for just the second time in his 12 Ryder Cup appearances. Now he draws the other half of Europe’s two-headed hydra. Molinari started this week 0-4-2 in three Ryder Cups, but he’s never played better than he did alongside Fleetwood. Like Tommy, he could become the first Euro to go 5-0 in a single Ryder Cup. Even without Tommy, common sense would say Molinari absolutely dusts Phil. But Mickelson has built his career on defying common sense. I don’t know how he’s going to do it…I just think he’s going to do it.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 1 up

MATCH 10: Tyrrell Hatton (1-1) vs. Patrick Reed (0-2)
Hatton, a Ryder rookie, paired nicely with Casey for two sessions. But is Reed really going to spend the entire week in Paris as a shell of his usual alpha self? At some point Captain America must appear, or the title of Captain America must be surrendered. In this 10th match of the day, Reed could find himself in a key spot. Time to don the cape.
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 5 and 4

MATCH 11: Henrik Stenson (1-1) vs. Bubba Watson (1-1)
Bubba caught heat for his wild drives and laisser-faire demeanor on Friday, but he played absolutely fantastic on Saturday. Still, Bubba is 0-3 in singles and he’s running smack into the cold-blooded Stenson, who’s in this spot to take care of business if things get tight. If my predictions come to fruition, things are gonna be tight.
PREDICTION: Europe wins, 2 and 1

MATCH 12: Alex Noren (1-1) vs. Bryson DeChambeau (0-2)
It all comes down to this! Two Ryder Cup rookies thrust into the most pressure-packed position in the game: win the match to win the Cup. Both players would be rightfully terrified. Noren has played better over these two days and carries more mojo into this match. Anything could happen, but I think Europe closes it on home soil, with Noren or Stenson banking the clinching point. But hey, a fun afternoon, don’t you think?
PREDICTION: Europe wins, 3 and 2

FINAL SCORE: Europe 14.5, U.S. 13.5