Ryder Cup Preview: Corey Pavin and USA'S Thermopylae
It's 2010 and the highlight of professional golf rears its rather beautiful head once again.
I, for one, am confident that no one will be disappointed, except, if most sources are to be believed, Corey Pavin.
Golf fans are delighted at the return of this prestigious competition, while hoping it roars into action rather than return with a damp squib—akin to the weather projected to batter Celtic Manor.
Sources have completely written off the US team’s chances of winning, but it's perhaps premature.
While I believe and hope that Europe hammers the USA, this weekend has the feel of a true underdog story.
Corey Pavin has at his disposal an interesting mix of rookies and veterans.
At the head of his team is Phil Mickelson, ‘Lefty’ himself. The four-time major winner comes into the tournament following a win at the Masters back in April with a T4 finish in the US Open and a T12 finish in the PGA Championship.
With Mickelson is Tiger Woods, the current number one player in the world.
He could be integral to the outcome of the tournament, almost certainly set to play his customary Ryder Cup role of either hero or villain.
The troubled star has struggled since exploding back onto the scene at Augusta National, relying on a captain’s pick for a ticket over the Atlantic. His inconsistency was there for all to see over the past few months, finishing T4 at the U.S. Open and T78 at the recent Bridgestone International.
Many questioned his inclusion in this team but if anyone can step up to the big occasion, it’s Tiger.
The core of experienced Ryder Cup stalwarts, featuring the ever reliable Jim Furyk and 2009 Open winner Stewart Cink, along with Steve Stricker and Zack Johnson, will be integral in managing the rookies that have joined the team.
Rookie Bubba Watson has performed admirably this season, finishing third in the points list. In a similar position are Dustin Johnson, remembered for losing a shot at the PGA Championship on a technicality, Matt Kuchar and Jeff Overton, both solid on tour all season.
Then there’s Rickie Fowler, America’s answer to Rory McIlroy. The 21-year-old Fowler has talent in abundance and no doubt has a successful career ahead of him. However this may be one Ryder Cup too soon for the young Californian. While impressive in finishing T14 at The Open, he has yet to win a tournament and has suffered a drop in form as of late.
This will be an Olympian challenge for Pavin’s men. We could replace the rolling hills of Wales for the tough terrain of Ancient Greece and think of this Open as the famous battle of Thermopylae, where 300 brave Spartans fought against 1,000,000 Persian invaders.
But with intelligent pairings and solid play, the cup could find its way onto a transatlantic jet.
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