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Confident of nothing

  • Rob Hodgetts - BBC Sport golf writer
  • 23 Sep 06, 08:15 AM

rob_hodgetts55x55.jpgK CLUB – Morning! Day two has dawned dark and broody but the course is buzzing with expectation.

Europe lead 5-3 and could, theoretically, surge to within one point of retaining the Ryder Cup today. No-one in their right mind expects that to happen of course.

Except, that is, for my esteemed colleague here Matt, who confidently predicted over breakfast, “If we win this session, it’s all over”.

Ian Woosnam, looking more chav than captain with his baseball cap perched on the back of his head, said: “I’ll be happy with 2-2 this morning.”

I’m clearly hoping Matt’s right of course (this is a blog, it’s nu-skool and so is our take on impartiality this weekend).

But I can’t help feeling that young Mr Woods and that nice Phil Mickelson, the one who walks everywhere with a bemused grin on his face, can’t be as famous as they are without being quite good at golf. They weren't yesterday so they can only get better.

Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson are in the first group for Europe against Stewart Cink and promising American rookie JJ Henry. The Europeans were three up after nine against these two yesterday but ended with a half on 18.

I suppose both pairs could have taken confidence from it, though both sides arguably had their chances to win and didn't. And both Casey and Cink are still unbeaten in Ryder Cup fourballs, but I’m inclined to think the power of Casey and the understated class of Karlsson may finish the job this time.

We could see fireworks in group two as the hot Spanish team of Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal meet Mickelson and his pumped up New York team-mate Chris DiMarco.

I certainly don’t see Europe having it their own way, and if Mickelson lights up he’ll be a handful to say the least. But Garcia lives for this tournament and if he can recreate yesterday’s heroics, it could yield Europe’s second point.

Match three is another cracker. Darren Clarke and his old mate Lee Westwood against Tiger Woods and his new mate Jim Furyk.

The European duo have been on form all week and Clarke will receive more monster ovations around the course. He also rested on Friday afternoon after an emotional morning.

Furyk, meanwhile, was the steadying influence in his partnership with the wayward Woods yesterday.

The world number one admitted he had not warmed up properly, strange given he’s the most professional of professional athletes and usually takes his practise before most people have come home from a night out.

He surely can’t make the same mistake again. Can he? I don’t think so, so this one will go down to the wire. We’ll call it a half for argument’s sake.

American Scott Verplank makes his bow this year alongside rookie Zach Johnson, who was not entirely assured on his debut yesterday. They play big-hitting Swede Henrik Stenson and Dubliner Padraig Harrington, in a new pairing, and could have a tough time.

Seven out of eight matches went to the 18th on the first day, but this one could certainly buck that trend.

All of which brings the score to 8.5-3.5 at lunch. Hmmm, when you write it down like that it looks too good to be true. This is matchplay after all.

If you’re American and fuming at this prediction, go ahead. I’m fully expecting to be wrong. But I’ve got my fingers crossed all the same. (I typed this with my nose)

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:30 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Mark A wrote:

Conservative as it may be, I think this morning's matches will be honours even. Tiger Woods *has* to come good at some point, surely, and even the pairing of Lee "Tim" Westwood and Darren Clarke might struggle.
I also suspect Verplank/Johnson might pinch a point.
However, the gambler in me is taking a punt on the score at the end of the second day to be 10-6.
Even then, Sunday will still have the capability to be tense, but if this European team can't find four and a half points from the singles, we deserve to lose.

  • 2.
  • At 09:32 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Slater wrote:

Can I just state, for the record, that I was talking about a 2.5-1.5 win and a three-point lead at lunch. Rob laughed at my jingoistic nonsense...and then comes out with something even more bullish. A five-point lead at lunch. Ryder Cup fever must be contagious.

  • 3.
  • At 11:24 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Declan Mullan wrote:

What fantastic drama we've had so far. The first day and so many matches coming down to the wire. The beauty of the Ryder Cup is that it can still be amazing without perfect golf, such is the way the action unfolds. I'm a big football fan but this is right up there with the best football competitions and games.

P.S. Rob how did you learn to type with your nose? Mine's is pretty big, I reckon I'd be good at that. Any jobs going?

  • 4.
  • At 11:46 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Martin Johnston wrote:

Europe needs to keep this up the rest of today and build a commanding lead for the singles where I'm sure the USA will fight back.

The pairings for the singles is going to be a tough decision for Woosnam. Does he load thye big plyers at the top against the USA's and hope for a quick victory? Or does he put them further down against the US rookies?

  • 5.
  • At 11:58 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Paul Keenan wrote:

As a highly focussed individual with a tendency to introvertion, can't help wondering if forcing 'Team-Building' on Tiger was a big mistake. He clearly is frustrated with his game but maybe the seeds of failure were sown by disrupting his normal preparation with singing, etc..

Bum note?

  • 6.
  • At 12:04 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Matthew Eagle wrote:

I really can't understand why Woosnam has continued to select Padraig Harrington. I know he is in front of home fans but I think he did not show great form yesterday. I would rather have seen Luke Donald or Paul McGinley playing a fourball, rather than using them both in the foursomes again.

  • 7.
  • At 12:07 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • steve cook wrote:

"The weather is not doing the Irish Tourist Board much good - it's absolutely wretched."
BBC Five Live presenter John Inverdale at the K Club

I do not know how to contact John Inverdale. But he may be interested to know that we have brilliant sunshine here in northern Germany.
Also Bernhard Langer is performing well!
Good play by the EU team but do not forget the Tiger's tail!

  • 8.
  • At 12:37 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Rob Murphy wrote:

Yesterday I mentioned about the K-club being in Kildare, not Dublin and apparently John Inverdale et al have taken note.

Today, I notice a new addition to the online coverage- a live scoreboard with the title "K Club, Dublin"!

Next time round, they should just hold it in Cork to avoid any confusion :)

  • 9.
  • At 02:19 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Rob H - BBC Sport wrote:

See, told you I'd be wrong. Europe 7.5-4.5 USA. I was a whole point out, and that's all down to US rookie Zach Johnson.

Stage fright? What stage fright? This aggressive birdie machine bagged seven of the little beauties, including a chip-in on 17 to win the final match 2&1 against Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington.

And how the US needed that point, what with their star players looking so disconsolate.

In the top match, Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson again let a good lead – 2 up through nine (3 up at halfway yesterday) - slip away to halve on the final green with Stewart Cink and another exciting rookie JJ Henry, who finished eagle-birdie-par.

The two middle matches were dominated by Europe, with 3&2 victories for Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood against Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, and Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco.

I thought the Spaniards might win but who would have thought Woods would look so abject. The Americans never led in either match.

So, not as good as I was hoping, but better than Woosie was hoping. Or was he just being diplomatic?

It does mean old clever clogs Slater was right, though. And no-one likes that!

  • 10.
  • At 02:26 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • stuart mcarthur wrote:

I wonder how embarrassed Thomas Bjorn is feeling today? Woosie's 'outrageous' selection of Lee Westwood ahead of him his already been fully vindicated.

  • 11.
  • At 03:33 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • tehmasp wrote:

Whose brilliant idea was it for both the teams to be almost identically dressed for the Saturday 4 ball.... Blue shirt, black pants, and an almost identical shade of blue in caps!!

Any idea how difficult it was for the TV viewers to figure who was from which team, specially on distance shots?

Isn't here some sort of planning and discussion about this? Or don't both the Captains talk to each other about things like this?

Thankfully the rain least the team umbrellas were conspicously different!!

  • 12.
  • At 08:55 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Mark A wrote:

Well, after my correct prediction of the score at close of play today (see above), Mystic Mark is going out on a limb again.
After looking at the match-ups for the singles tomorrow, I'm going to take 6/1 odds for a 17-11 finish.
With any luck, it'll pay for the celebration tomorrow night.

[BTW: many thanks to Billy Hill for today's generous odds]

  • 13.
  • At 10:57 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Black wrote:

As an Englishman in County Kildare I am fed up with most of the media talking about the K (Kildare) Club being in Dublin. have you not researched the rivalry between the Dubs and the Lilywhites?
How can I describe the offence - St. Andrews in England. Man Utd being a Lancashire team. Ipswich is a team from Norfolk. 10 times today I heard the 5 live team talk about The K Club being 20 miles south west of Dublin. YOU ARE IN STRAFFAN CO. KILDARE...3 miles from ME!.
ps can you boost the 5 Live signal a little bit.

  • 14.
  • At 02:47 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Ike wrote:

I said after the last Ryder that US should change the method of selection. There is SO much money on the US circuit that these team competitions are meaningless to the millionares. In fact, a nuisance. And we can see it in the attitude and body language.

Get people who really want to play. Nationwide and NCAA players would be thrilled to play. I rather see spirited players being whipped than lumber loaded millionaires who are calculating how much is the prize for the next PGA event.

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