- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2008

RYDER CUP MATCHUPS

Pairings for Saturday’s foursomes play at the 37th Ryder Cup, which the United States leads 51/2 to 21/2 after opening-day play at Valhalla Golf Club (7,496 yards, par 71).

8:05 a.m.

Stewart Cink/Chad Campbell (USA) vs. Justin Rose/Ian Poulter (EUR)

Skinny: In a rematch of one of Friday’s foursomes battles, Nick Faldo’s favorites face the well-rested pair of Campbell and Cink, who toppled the Brits (1 up) in the initial meeting and then sat out Friday’s afternoon four-balls. Though Rose and Poulter were responsible for Friday’s only European victory, a 4-and-2 four-ball pasting of Steve Stricker and hapless Ben Curtis, Cink was America’s strongest foursomes cog Friday.

Prediction: Cink/Campbell 2 and 1

8:20 a.m.

Justin Leonard/Hunter Mahan (USA) vs. Miguel A. Jimenez/Graeme McDowell (EUR)

Skinny: The most successful U.S. pairing from Friday (2-0-0) takes on what can only be called one of the oddest pairings in Ryder Cup history. Not only are the eccentric, aging Spaniard and steely young Irishman not close friends, they were both Friday losers (both 0-1). And yet Faldo apparently has chosen them over the two top career point-earners on his team (Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood), as well as a player who has never lost a foursomes match (Garcia is 8-0-1). Shocking.

Prediction: Leonard/Mahan 4 and 3

8:35 a.m.

Phil Mickelson/Anthony Kim (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson/Oliver Wilson (EUR)

Skinny: The U.S. power pairing from Friday draws the only player left out of Friday’s action (Wilson) and the long-knocking Swede, who sprayed the ball all over the lot in a Friday foursomes loss beside Paul Casey. This is starting to look very, very ugly.

Prediction: Mickelson/Kim 3 and 2

8:50 a.m.

Kenny Perry/Jim Furyk (USA) vs. Padraig Harrington/Robert Karlsson (EUR)

Skinny: These two pairings both earned halves in Friday’s foursomes. Of the four, only Harrington is actually in form. The three-time major winner played well Friday afternoon with McDowell (8 under) only to be boat-raced by Mickelson and Kim. On the U.S. side, Furyk has lost his putting touch, and Perry staggered to the tape Friday. In the spirit of suspense, Europe has to win something, right?

Prediction: Harrington/Karlsson 2 up

Predicted score after foursomes: USA 8 1/2, Europe 3 1/2

MATCH CAPSULES

MORNING FOURSOMES

Harrington/Karlsson (Europe) halved with Mickelson/ Kim (U.S.): Europe won three straight holes to start the back nine to go 3 up, but the Americans won the 13th, 14th and 15th to tie.

Leonard/Mahan (U.S.) def. Stenson/Casey (Europe) 3 and 2: The Americans got the first point of the competition in a wild match that featured just four halved holes out of 16. The U.S. team seized control when Mahan hit a 5-iron to 2 1/2 feet for a conceded birdie on the 14th.

Cink/Campbell (U.S.) def. Rose/Poulter (Europe) 1 up: Europe started well, taking a 3-up lead through seven holes. Campbell made a birdie on the eighth to begin a slow comeback. On 18, Rose and Poulter both missed short putts that would have netted a half-point.

Westwood/Garcia (Europe) halved with Perry/Furyk (U.S.): The Americans sat dormie with two holes to play before native Kentuckian Perry faded badly, missing a 5-foot par putt on the 17th and driving into the water off the 18th tee.

AFTERNOON FOUR-BALLS

Mickelson/Kim (U.S.) def. Harrington/McDowell (Europe) 2 up: Just like in the morning foursomes, the Americans quickly fell three holes but clawed their way back in. Mickelson birdied the 13th, and when Kim birdied the 14th from seven feet, they had their first lead.

Poulter/Rose (Europe) def. Stricker/Curtis (U.S.) 4 and 2: When the U.S. pair missed the green at No. 6 and failed to make par, the Englishmen had a lead they never relinquished. Curtis failed to make a single birdie. For Europe, it was the only match it won all day.

Leonard/Mahan (U.S.) def. Garcia/Jimenez (Europe) 4 and 3: Mahan’s birdie on No. 1 and Leonard’s near ace on No. 3 put the Americans well on their way. Garcia had not trailed in any team match since Oakland Hills in 2004, but he was behind on his final 27 holes Friday.

Westwood/Hansen (Europe) halved with Holmes/Weekley (U.S.): Another 3-1 session was within the Americans’ reach until both Holmes and Weekley drove into the water on 18. Weekley holed a 50-foot putt from the back of the 12th green for a 1-up lead that lasted to the closing hole.

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