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U.S.A. on the verge of bringing the Ryder Cup “back home”

Posted on 29 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

I’m sure Jose Maria Olazabal will be going to YouTube tonight to make a quick copy of Ben Crenshaw’s speech from the ’99 Ryder Cup in Boston.

His European team is in the exact same position as that ’99 USA squad, trailing 10-6 heading into the Sunday singles matches at this year’s edition of the Ryder Cup at Medinah CC in Chicago.

Until his team picked up two late points on Saturday afternoon, Olazabal wouldn’t have needed the Crenshaw video.  They would have needed a miracle, not a pep talk, had Ian Poulter and Luke Donald not pulled off rock-star putting displays late in their respective better-ball matches.

As it stands now, a 10-6 deficit is going to be difficult to overcome, but, as the European captain will no doubt remind his team, it has been done before.

The U.S. team needs 4.5 points (out of 12) to reclaim the Cup.  Europe needs 8 points to retain the Cup, as the defending titleist needs only to TIE the competition to win.

Here’s the match-by-match breakdown of Sunday’s singles competition.

Luke Donald (Europe) vs. Bubba Watson (USA) — Donald has more Ryder Cup competition than Watson, but the current Masters champ has played well this week at Medinah.  Advantage: Donald 

Ian Poulter (E) vs. Webb Simpson (U) — Poulter has been the best overall performer in the matches thus far, with his 5-birdie barrage at the end of Saturday’s play going down as one of the most electric back nines in Ryder Cup history.  Simpson, the U.S. Open champ this summer, has been solid for Davis Love III as well.  This should be one of the better match-ups of the Singles competition.  Advantage: Poulter

Rory McIlroy (E) vs. Keegan Bradley (U) — McIlroy has not played well at Medinah, particularly with his wedges and short-game clubs.  Bradley, meanwhile, has been the best ball striker on the U.S. team through the first two days.  How will he perform WITHOUT Mickelson at his side is the big question, but a win over McIlroy will prove that he can play well without the aid of a veteran cheerleader.  Advantage: McIlroy

Justin Rose (E) vs. Phil Mickelson (U) — Mickelson looked sharp in three rounds with Bradley and seems to have gained confidence in his new putting grip.  Rose hasn’t been sharp at all, with his unreliable short game hurting him Friday and Saturday.  Advantage:  Mickelson

Paul Lawrie (E) vs. Brandt Snedeker (U) — Lawrie is playing in his first Ryder Cup since 1999.  Snedeker is playing in his first one, ever.  Snedeker was hot and cold partnering with Jim Furyk, but when you’re the best putter on TOUR, like Brandt is, you’re always capable of pouring them in over 18 holes.  Advantage:  Snedeker

Nicolas Colsaerts (E) vs. Dustin Johnson (U) — The bombers get together for what should be a wild match of long drives and plenty of birdies.  Colsaerts was a captain’s pick and has proved a worthy one, as was Dustin Johnson, who teamed up with Matt Kuchar for the first two days of play.  Johnson did not play well in the Saturday afternoon match, but was bailed out by Kuchar’s hot putter.  Advantage:  Colsaerts

Graeme McDowell (E) vs. Zach Johnson (U) — McDowell has battling “the lefts” all week at Medinah and has been one of Europe’s least effective performers.  Johnson, meanwhile, had his own troubles with a faulty driver on Saturday afternoon.  Advantage:  Johnson

Sergio Garcia (E) vs. Jim Furyk (U) — Another match that could go either way, as both players have been hot and cold in the first two days.  Furyk has the experience edge over Garcia, but the Spaniard rises to the occasion in the Ryder Cup, a lot like his captain and the late Seve Ballesteros.  Advantage: Furyk

Peter Hanson (E) vs. Jason Duffner (U) — Hanson came in playing poorly and was used just once by Olazabal.  Dufner has been the second best American player overall, behind only Bradley.  Advantage:  Dufner

Lee Westwood (E) vs. Matt Kuchar (U) — A shaky short game has hurt Westwood in these matches and his putter has been among the coldest on the European team.  Kuchar has been terrific, combining great iron play with a scorching hot putter.  Advantage: Kuchar

Martin Kaymer (E) vs. Steve Stricker (U) — Kaymer, like Hanson, came into these matches on bad form and hasn’t impressed at all, playing just once in the first two days.  Stricker has hit the ball well, but his usually-solid putter hasn’t been up to par at all.  That won’t last for three days.  Advantage: Stricker

Francesco Molinari (E) vs. Tiger Woods (U) — Molinari is capable of playing solid golf but his putter has been erratic at Medinah.  Woods hasn’t played nearly as bad as his 0-3 record would indicate.  After a horrible round driving the ball in the Friday morning matches, Tiger rebounded with rounds of -5 and -6 in the better ball matches (with the typical match play concessions) and single-handedly kept the Saturday afternoon match alive with his great play.  Advantage:  Woods

Summary:  It’s just too much of a hurdle for the Europeans to overcome, although Olazabal was smart in sending out his three best players to start the singles matches.  He’s obviously hoping to get some early points and build some enthusiasm.  Love III countered with his better players (in this competition) early and then built some reserve on the back end with Kuchar, Stricker and Woods.  For Europe to mount a threat, they need strong performances from the guys who have played the worst (Hanson, Kaymer and Lawrie) thus far in the competition.  


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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 25 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable MentionHigh School Football: Kenwood @ Perry Hall (Friday 7pm), Gilman @ Mount St. Joseph (Saturday 1pm), Catonsville @ Hereford (Friday 7pm)

10. Blocktoberfest feat. Stroke 9 (Saturday outside 1st Mariner Arena); Several Species: The Pink Floyd Experience (Saturday 6pm Pier Six Pavilion); Gotye (Sunday 6:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Switchfoot (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live), Needtobreathe (Thursday 8pm Rams Head Live), Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (Friday 8:30pm Rams Head Live); North Mississippi All-Stars (Thursday 7pm Recher Theatre); Old Man Brown (Friday 8pm 8×10 Club); Powerman 5000 (Saturday 7pm Baltimore Soundstage); BoDeans/Levi Lowrey (Wednesday & Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Los Lobos (Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Wallflowers (Wednesday 8pm Black Cat); Pat McGee Band/Ari Hest (Friday 8pm Strathmore); David Gray (Sunday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Blondie (Monday 8pm State Theatre); Mumford & Sons “Babel”, Green Day “Uno”, Lupe Fiasco “Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap” and No Doubt “Push and Shove” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Holy crap. Stroke 9 is still a thing? Effing A, I’m all in…

Frank Turner is so freaking underrated…

It’s not a question of whether or not you love the Wallflowers. It’s just a question as to whether or not you’re willing to admit it…

I was sent a copy of the Mumford record last week, I love it. Did you see their performance of “Below My Feet” on SNL? Chills.

9. Margaret Cho (Tuesday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head on Stage); Lewis Black (Thursday-Saturday 8pm Warner Theater); JB Smoove (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); The Avengers” and “Family Guy Volume 10” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “Looper” out in theaters (Friday); Baltimore Book Festival (Friday-Sunday Mt. Vernon Place); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday Revel Grove); Living Classrooms Foundation “Maritime Magic” (Friday 7pm Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park)


Seriously though, I’m kinda all in on shawarma…

Let’s all go for shawarma!

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Love III connects with his four Ryder Cup picks

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III added experience, length and birdie potential on Tuesday by announcing his four selections for this month’s bi-annual competition between the U.S. and Europe.

As expected, Love III went with established veterans Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk with two of his four captain’s picks.  Both are experienced in Ryder Cup and President’s Cup play and each player has successfully partnered with Tiger Woods on several occasions.

Dustin Johnson played his way on to the team with outstanding play over the last month.  After missing nearly three months earlier in the season due to injury, Johnson recovered in time to impress Love III with his health and his putting.  Johnson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, is also one of the circuit’s best birdie-makers when his putter is on.

Brandt Snedeker, like Johnson, also played his way on after challenging at the British Open and following that with strong play in the month thereafter.  He’s also a player capable of making birdies in bunches, which bodes well in a team-event like the Ryder Cup where pars generally don’t do you much good.

All four picks seem reasonable to me.  While Stricker and Furyk make complete sense, it’s not like they have to prop up Tiger Woods anymore.  In year’s past, Woods needed a partner who could put the ball in play off the tee in both the better-ball and alternate-shot formats, but that’s not the case now.  The Great One has flirted with the top 5 in the TOUR’s “total driving” stat all year (the combination of where you rank in driving distance and driving accuracy) and is swinging the golf club as well as he ever has heading into next week’s BMW Championship in Indiana.  His putter?  That’s a different story.  But for once, Woods won’t be a liability off the tee in the Ryder Cup.

Johnson and Snedeker come in with the hot hand, assuming their current form continues for another three weeks.  The only player I hoped might make it that didn’t was Bo Van Pelt.  He finished 17th in the standings, but he’s a birdie machine and would probably give his left arm to make the team.

It’s hard to find fault with the captain’s picks.  They feature a major champion (Furyk) and three other players who have all sniffed around at majors throughout their careers.  And, as most players will tell you, the Ryder Cup produces as much angst and nervous tension as a major championship.



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