Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the Ryder Cup in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Not a good day for the red, white and blue. The U.S. will go into Monday’s singles down 9 1/2-6 1/2. Can the Americans still win this thing? Personally, I’m a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: To follow up on your quote, the United States may have to channel the Spirit of Brookline if it is going to come back on Sunday and win. Mickelson and Dustin Johnson’s total lack of production is hurting the team almost as much as Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson’s performances have helped. If the U.S. doesn’t get full-point wins from Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Furyk — four of the five highest-ranked players in the world — I don’t think they can win. You just know that Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald are going to show up for the Europeans.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Let’s do the math: Put down Westwood, Kaymer, Poulter and McDowell for wins. That gets the Euros to 13 1/2. That means the U.S. can afford to lose only a half-point on the other eight matches. Time to get geared up for Medinah and 2012.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: They could win if so many would-be studs weren’t struggling. Phil, DJ, Furyk, Tiger … they’re all off their game. If they remember who they are and play great in singles then it’s do-able. But I think Europe is going to turn this into a blowout.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The 50-pence piece is a weird-looking thing with seven sides. Would it be so shocking if you flipped one 12 times and Queen Elizabeth came up eight of them? When you match up 12 of the better golfers in the world, every match is a toss-up. The Americans can certainly win. Nothing to do with team rooms, fate, passion, the big mo or any of that — just the weirdness of probability with a small sample like 12.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I think they’ll make it close, but there’s just too much ground to make up.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Sports Illustrated: The U.S. absolutely can win. The Euros were killing it today, but the Yanks are perfectly capable of catching fire the same way tomorrow.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The Americans don’t have anyone playing nearly as well as Donald and Westwood. Plus, Phil and Tiger and Dustin Johnson are struggling. There’s no one to look to as the leader of this great American charge. Cink, Kuchar and Overton have carried the team as far as they can.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Absolutely no way the U.S. wins this thing. Dustin Johnson has looked lost on the soggy greens, Phil can’t seem to catch a break or hole a putt, and even the most revelatory American team, Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson, have gone 1-2-0. It just didn’t happen for any of them in that third session.
Dusek: Kuchar and Overton have been impressive. There’s always next time: Couple them with Anthony Kim and a more-polished Rickie Fowler, and you’ve got the makings of a core group of young Ryder Cup contenders.
Morfit: Agreed. I loved Overton’s reaction to the eagle on 8. That’ll be what I remember about this Cup. And the rain.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, GOLF.com: Can’t guarantee a point to anyone, but if this roster of Europeans doesn’t get five points, it’d be a bigger shocker than Brookline.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I don’t think fate has a passport. Too much ground to make up. Euros win.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, GOLF.com: History says the U.S. is strong at Sunday (er, Monday) singles. It’s a big deficit, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Americans pulled it out.
Morfit: You and Ben Crenshaw might be the only ones.
Van Sickle: Cue the old “Dragnet” theme: They’re done. If the U.S. team were a wounded crewman on “Star Trek,” Bones would tell Kirk: “He’s dead, Jim.”
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: I don’t think the U.S. can overcome the psychological beating they took today. Europe wins easily.
Morfit: Pavin might have liked to sit either Phil, Dustin or both, but he just couldn’t. The new format highlighted Europe’s depth, and with the two six-match sessions, the cost of having a really horrendous session got too high to recover.
Godich: I’m not so sure about that, Cam. The Americans won the first six-match section 3 1/2-2 1/2. Aside from Dustin Johnson, the U.S. rookies have held their own. It wasn’t so much the depth as it was the performances from the U.S.’s top guns, like Woods, Furyk and Mahan.
Morfit: I thought Dustin Johnson’s poor putting and Phil/Rickie’s failure to birdie 15 pretty much sealed their fate.
Godich: After the horrendous start yesterday, the Americans were in position to get this thing to 8-8 (or close to it) on the back nine today. Sloppy play on a drivable par-4 and tentative putting led to their undoing. At the same time, give the Euros credit. They hit the shots and holed the putts when the momentum was starting to swing.
Dusek: Right Mark. Now imagine if the event organizers got it right and sold tickets for Monday. Or simply let people in for free. As it stands, only Sunday ticket-holders will be allowed into Celtic Manor for singles. Since not everyone can go on a Monday, Europe is losing a big opportunity for an even bigger home-course advantage. Remember the Monday crowd at Torrey Pines …