Confident of nothing
- 23 Sep 06, 08:15 AM
K 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)
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