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Pairings and Predictions: Ryder Cup Sunday

Patrick Reed
CHASKA, MN - OCTOBER 01: Patrick Reed of the United States reacts on the 15th green during afternoon fourball matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 1, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Ryder Cup Pairings and Predictions

Sunday Singles

This sure is fun. The brilliant play of the world’s best. The ebbs and flows of match play. What a splendid two days we’ve seen at Hazeltine. Day 3 ought to be just as good. The USA leads 9.5-6.5 heading into Sunday singles, but as we’ve seen before, a Ryder Cup lead can disappear quickly.

Europe front-loaded its Sunday lineup with its strongest players, so an early European charge charge won’t be surprising. If that happens, will the end of the draw be inspired?


While the USA leads Europe by 3 points, the king prognosticator Sean also leads Rob by 3 points. Sean has guessed 10 of 16 matches correctly. Rob has guessed a pitiful 7. Yes, this is harder than it looks.

But only one thing matters Sunday. Will the USA hold its lead and win back the Ryder Cup after three straight losses? Here’s what Sean and Rob see in their murky crystal balls:

Sunday Singles Match #1 (11:04 am CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Patrick Reed (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: We got what we wanted. Patrick Reed’s sensational Saturday at Hazeltine and McIlroy’s dominant partnership with Thomas Pieters has led to a pair of true standout stars for each team. It’s impossible to pick against Rory – if this was a normal PGA Tour event, he may be lapping the field.

Rob: Reed and McIlroy may each be called the “Man of the Match” for their respective teams. A win for Rory would be huge. Taking down the Americans’ top dog will set the tone for a potential comeback. Conversely, a win for Reed might be the dagger that dims the Euros’ hopes. Both players have shown they can handle this big stage. There is only one player I could possibly pick to beat Reed. And that player is Rory.

Sunday Singles Match #2 (11:15 am CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: Spieth’s swing deteriorated drastically in Saturday as Patrick Reed carried their team to victory. Stenson’s knee may be sore, but he will take care of this when it matters most.

Rob: Henrik Stenson has not been slowed by his aching knee. He’s been one of the linchpins for Europe and he is likely to dispatch Spieth.

Sunday Singles Match #3 (11:26 am CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
J.B. Holmes (USA) vs. Thomas Pieters (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: Darren Clarke has set things up beautifully for a comeback, and expect the early charge to continue with the tall Belgian phenom taking care of business in his first Ryder Cup.

Rob: Thomas Pieters has been incredible at this Ryder Cup. He and McIlroy went 3-0 together in team play, and he played just as well as his more heralded partner in those matches. Pieters’ only loss was in the opening Foursome session with Westwood. Look for Pieters to finish his weekend at 4-1.

Sunday Singles Match #4 (11:37 am CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Justin Rose (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: Another match where Europe is decidedly the favorite. Fowler’s putting woes make it difficult to pick him.

Rob: Justin Rose is on his game. Rickie Fowler is not. That could certainly change in Singles, but not likely.

Sunday Singles Match #5 (11:48 am CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Jimmy Walker (USA) vs. Rafa Cabrera-Bello (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: This is where the U.S. gets a good run at some positive momentum. In a battle of two tremendous ball-strikers, Jimmy Walker’s experience pushes him past the Spaniard.

Rob: If the USA is going to secure the Ryder Cup, it will need to start getting some points on the board. The PGA champion Jimmy Walker is just the man to do it.

Sunday Singles Match #6 (11:59 am CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia (EUR) HALVE

The Breakdown

Sean: Garcia tends to shine in these situations, but something about Phil’s determined play on Saturday gives this a much different look. Put it down as a halve.

Rob: Phil Mickelson is on a mission. It seems like he’s put his team on his shoulders and he is simply not going to allow them to lose. His play has been inspiring — and spectacular at times. One more win in Sunday Singles will be the icing on the cake. It won’t be easy against Garcia, but Phil will thrive in this big moment.

Sunday Singles Match #7 (12:10 pm CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Ryan Moore (USA) vs. Lee Westwood (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: Westwood’s putter, as it so often has in his career, deserted him in the most vital moments in Saturday. Moore is a much better putter, and that will prove the difference.

Rob: How bad must Westwood feel? Will he have any confidence on Sunday? He gifted the USA a point in Saturday Four-balls. Moore was the recipient of this gift, and Moore should play well enough to take another point from Westwood.

Sunday Singles Match #8 (12:21 pm CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Brandt Snedeker (USA) vs. Andy Sullivan (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: Despite not receiving the attention Reed gets, Sneds also lives for the Ryder Cup and hasn’t backed down. He gets a good matchup with Sullivan, a player that couldn’t win when paired with the best player in the event. USA gets on the board again.

Rob: Welcome back Andy Sullivan. Where have you been since Friday morning? Captain Darren Clarke didn’t have the confidence to put Sullivan back out after he and McIlroy lost to Mickelson/Fowler in the first session. Snedeker, on the other hand, is 2-0, and he’s about to be 3-0.

Sunday Singles Match #9 (12:32 pm CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Dustin Johnson (USA) vs. Chris Wood (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: DJ is clearly the favorite on paper. Wood has been okay in this Ryder Cup, but you have to go with the guy who can turn it on to another level nobody touches.

Rob: Dustin Johnson will be the PGA Tour Player of the Year, even if he hasn’t shown us his best stuff this week. So, DJ versus Wood? I think DJ would win 7 out of 10 times. I’m playing the odds here.

Sunday Singles Match #10 (12:43 pm CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Brooks Koepka (USA) vs. Danny Willett (EUR) HALVE

The Breakdown

Sean: Willett has performed admirably while Koepka has been strong (despite a shank on the 12th hole Saturday morning). Mark it down as a halve.

Rob: Both Koepka and Willett have been impressive this week. Koepka is 2-1. Willett was saddled with Lee Westwood in Friday Four-ball and still nearly won. I like Koepka, but I like Willett just a little bit more.

Sunday Singles Match #11 (12:54 pm CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Matt Kuchar (USA) vs. Martin Kaymer (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: Kaymer has just been dreadful in this Ryder Cup and probably should have played less than someone like Cabrera-Bello. Kuchar hasnt been a whole lot better,  so this is the best case scenario for Europe. In a toss up, take the two-time major champ who has come through late on Sunday in a Ryder Cup before.

Rob: Coming into the Ryder Cup, Kuchar was in better form than Kaymer. And during the Ryder Cup, Kuchar is in better form than Kaymer. I’ll take the guy in better form than Kaymer.

Sunday Singles Match #12 (1:05 pm CST)
Sean Fairholm picks:

Rob Coleman picks:
Zach Johnson (USA) vs. Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)

The Breakdown

Sean: These two short hitters have been hidden last, but what happens if this match decides the winner? Much like the toss up before, give the advantage to the player with two majors and experience. Johnson will find a way if he needs to.

Rob: A veteran versus a rookie in the final match? This match shouldn’t matter, and that might benefit Fitzpatrick. Still, the veteran Johnson ought to take care of business. And if the match is on the line on the final hole, the Americans will be glad Johnson is swinging the clubs and not a nervous rookie.

The Summary

Sean: Clarke wants blue on the board early, but there are just too many gaping holes in the European lineup in the middle and the back end. Westwood, Fitzpatrick, Sullivan and Wood haven’t really inspired much confidence, while the Americans in the middle are just deeper and more experienced. This is where having six rookies makes a comeback too difficult to handle. The U.S.  holds on this time, albeit narrowly.

Rob: Europe is poised to mount an early charge. They’ve got their heavy hitters going out first. If the USA wins a couple of those very early matches, it will be a rout. More likely, I expect the Euros will get some early wins, but the middle and tail end of the matches will favor the Americans. Simply put, the losing streak ends now. The USA will rise up. Long live the Task Force.

 

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