Match 1: Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson USA v. Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood EURO
There is without a doubt some benefit to playing at home, at least the books are accounting for that, which probably means Martin Kaymer is the best player in this match. His 2010 season, is only fractionally worse than Phil and among the top 10 in the world. Westwood would probably be close to the best player in this Ryder Cup, if he was healthy. It’s safe to assume he will not be 100-percent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win a few points if he gets lucky.
Mickelson and Johnson make for an interesting fourball pairing, because they tend to play really well or relatively poorly compared to players of their skill. That means you could see a lot of birdies and a lot of bogeys. My sims keep showing that the importance of being able to make birdies and eagles is more valuable in best ball than consistently playing better. That should give the US an advantage in this one if it is the case.
|Mickelson/DJ Win only||55.49%||-125|
|Kaymer/Westwood Win only||44.51%||125|
VERDICT: I think my sim slightly overstates the US case for winning this match, because of high standard deviations from Mickelson and Johnson and a pretty low one from Kaymer. Also, overall, I think the adjustment I made for Westwood is good–I’ll update in comments with no adjustment–but it appears that in this case people believe Westwood is going to be close to 100%. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the US is slight value here.
Match 2: Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar USA v. Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell EURO
Truly some match play strategy genius from Corey Pavin here. Of course, since two people went to the same school–at different times–they are guaranteed to be best friends. Cink has literally done nothing since winning the British Open in 2008 and I wonder if he would even be on the team if Pavin thought along the lines of, “will Stewart Cink who is only getting older and hasn’t done anything in a year and a half look like a good Captain’s pick in ten years?” Of course, we now know, Pavin wasn’t thinking along any lines.
Kuchar is certainly a stalwart of the US team right now, but he didn’t get much help as a partner.
On the other side of the match, McIlroy is still woefully overrated. He’s a great player and he’s very young. But, he hasn’t been close to Tiger at his age, and hasn’t been as good yet as comparable, though a few years older, Martin Kaymer. He has the balls to challenge Tiger, though. McDowell, is coming off the US Open win and golf writers always go nuts over same country pairings, though it’s doubtful that really matters. Euros are definitely the stronger of the two teams here.
|Cink/Kuchar Win only||40.18%||149|
|Rory/G-Mac Win only||59.82%||-149|
VERDICT: McIlroy and McDowell at home will probably be an overrated team. This should be the case tomorrow, but it’s unfortunate that the US couldn’t counter with Kuchar and Mahan here. I’d lean to the US.
Match 3: Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker USA v. Ross Fisher, Ian Poulter EURO
Given that the Euro’s played 8 out of their best 9, this really is another fantastic break for them. This European team is probably the weakest for tomorrow going up against the US’s best. Before last year’s President’s Cup, I looked at the best way to deal with one really strong team. It seemed that throwing out one sacrificial lamb, and improving your chances in three other matches is the way to go.
In the Ryder Cup, this is all luck of the draw, but as it stands, Fisher and Poulter should have a fighting chance with some home-field advantage, and the Euro’s come out looking a lot better in the rest of the matches.
Stricker and Woods are easily the US’ best duo, and should play all four team matches together, but god knows what will happen.
|Woods/Stricker Win only||52.19%||-109|
|Poulter/Fisher Win only||47.81%||109|
VERDICT: Usually the value on a match like this would be against the big name team. To be honest, I’m not sure what’s up with this one. Are Tiger and Stricker immune for the home-field advantage that the rest of the team is penalized for? I can certainly see, where the Woods-Stricker line is fair on a neutral surface, but none of the other matches are being treated that way. I’m not sure what to do with this one.
Match 4: Bubba Watson, Jeff Overton USA v. Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington EURO
This is pretty much a disaster for the US team. Let’s go back to the question, “In ten years will Watson and Overton and look like good members of this team?” I’ll answer that, NO. Watson is probably on the edge of making another Ryder Cup team. For Overton, I’d say it’s pretty unlikely he ever plays on another Ryder Cup team. In ten years, we will laugh that Watney, O’Hair and possibly Kim (injured, but still) were overlooked or didn’t make the team to Watson, Fowler, Overton and Cink.
Donald and Harrington is arguably the Euro’s strongest team with tons of experience and playing well. They are rightfully big favorites in this one.
|Watson/Overton Win only||44.13%||127|
|Donald/Harrington Win only||55.87%||-12|
VERDICT: I’m not sure who wants a piece of Overton and Watson here, and that includes me. If they were unpopular because they were underrated then that’s one thing. The problem is I think Overton and Watson are OVERrated. Both are having career years, and in Overton’s case it seems to be extremely fluky (he’s made an obscene amount of 25-foot or longer putts). Donald and Harrington, on the other hand, have pretty much consistently been strong, but haven’t been able to convert that to wins, which leaves them less overrated than others on Euro team.
My numbers are high on Watson and Overton because of the standard deviation issue. They appear to be more likely to make birdies but also more erratic. My sims says that’s an advantage in best ball. Is that true, or is it true that more inconsistent players from round to round are more inconsistent overall, I don’t know. I’m not sure, but everyone knows Watson and Overton are rookies, who are among the worst on the team going against Euro stalwarts. Probably an edge to US here.