Each day during the Ryder Cup, writers, producers and editors from the Sports Illustrated Golf Group give their opinions on the trending topic of the day at Hazeltine National. Agree with our takes? Disagree? Tweet us your thoughts at @golf_com.
After years of waiting, the final day of the 2016 Ryder Cup is Sunday at Hazeltine. The Americans hold a 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 lead over the Europeans with 12 singles matches left to play. Who will come out on top and win the Cup Sunday night?
Josh Sens, contributor, GOLF: A Hail Mary at Hazeltine? Unlikely but not out of the question. I wouldn’t count out Fitzpatrick or the other Euro rookies just because they’ve been sitting (in many ways team play is much more uncomfortable than singles). I expect them to acquit themselves well tomorrow. As for looking gassed, maybe Stenson appeared a bit weary but so did Spieth. Westwood is an obvious weak link with his putting and Kaymer isn’t sharp but the U.S. has a couple of guys off their games as well (Moore; Fowler). I still think the U.S. will squeak it out but this is one going down to the wire.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: A three-point lead is hardly insurmountable. But it’s damn tough to beat when your team’s weakness is putting and match play is all about putting. The Americans have a better group of putters, top to bottom. That’ll be the difference since they’ve already got a nice cushion.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The U.S. A third of the Europeans are spent after having played all four matches and a quarter of the team has had their confidence shaken from having been allowed to play only one. And would-be veteran leaders Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer are stinking up the joint. The Americans are deeper, playing better and have never wanted it more. It’s their time.
Van Sickle: I like Alan’s point about Europe’s top dogs being gassed.
Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF: The U.S. finally gets it done and it won’t even be close. They’re fresher, better, hungrier and are more experienced. Europe has some real fighters, but too many weak links. Stars and Stripes on Sunday.
Pete Madden, senior producer, GOLF.com: Every single American player is already on the scoreboard, while five Europeans (Martin Kaymer, Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick) are still looking for their first point. The U.S. appears to be the better team this year, and it needs to win only five of the 12 Sunday singles matches to capture the Cup. I think the Europeans are going home, and the Ryder Cup is staying stateside.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Here’s the biggest issue: The Europeans will send out three rookies who have played only one match, including one (Andy Sullivan) who hasn’t teed it up since Friday morning. There’s a good reason they haven’t been playing. And five Euros have played in all four matches, versus two for the U.S. Second-guess some of Davis Love’s decisions all you want, but he’s gotten all 12 of his players on the course at least twice, and every one of them has at least a little something positive to take to the 1st tee. That’s why I can’t see a Medinah Miracle sequel.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I think it is actually pretty easy to make a case for why the Europeans will win eight points on Sunday and win the Ryder Cup, and of course even easier to make the case that they will win 7.5 points, tie the day but keep the wee trophy. The pro-American fan noise, for one thing, could work in their favor. I don’t agree with Mark–I think the European rookies will do just fine, right down to Matt Fitzpatrick in a match that could decide the whole thing. But when it’s all over, I can’t bring myself to say that the Europeans will win. I don’t believe they will. I think the Americans will get to 14.5, but it will be way late in day before they do. 15-13, U.S.
Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, GOLF.com: Well, I picked Europe to win at the start of the week, so why switch now? Actually, yes, I WILL switch now, for all the reasons stated above. The U.S. has more momentum, more players who have already made positive contributions, and the hunger of a more desperate team. The top half of the European roster has kept them alive, but to win 7 1/2 points tomorrow, they need 10-12 guys who are serious threats to take any match, and I don’t see it.