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Golfing Green: Experts Say Europeans Too Tough In Ryder Cup

By Matt Hombach

While most players on the PGA Tour have enjoyed a summer without Tiger Woods, the golfers on the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team will be missing him this weekend. While Woods has hinted he may show up to offer moral support for the team, there is no chance he’ll be teeing it up at Valhalla in Kentucky.

As the Tiger-less American squad, led by captain Paul Azinger, prepare to face off in the bi-annual match play event against a strong European contingent under the leadership of captain Nick Faldo, several local experts weighed in with predictions on whether the U.S. team can break the Europeans’ recent domination of the Ryder Cup.

Peter Gilbert
Sports anchor/reporter, WBAL-TV

"All factors point to a European victory. You go down the line, and they just have a better team. It’s very strange to see the U.S. in the role of underdog, even as the home team.

"With Tiger out and not too many people giving the U.S. a chance, now would be a great time for them to finally come together as a team and pull it off. I think it will be a tight contest and there will be some drama in the final matches on Sunday. I think the U.S. will pull it off in a close one"

Drew Forrester
Host, WNST Comcast Morning Show

"It is going to be interesting to watch, and tough for the Americans to win. The Euros are just really strong. When Darren Clarke and Jose Maria Olazabal don’t even make the team, you know they’re good. 

"Both captains did a great job with their picks, especially Azinger. [Steve] Stricker is a no-brainer pick and J.B. Holmes is a Kentucky native who knows the course very well. The guy kills it off the tee and will make a great partner for alternate shot and better ball.

"Ultimately, I think the Euros will pull it out. They just have a better team. If I had to guess a score, I’d say 15-13.” 

Frank Blind, PGA
Head pro, Gunpowder Falls

“I'm thinking the U.S. team will be trying harder than ever. They want to show everyone they can do it without Tiger. But the Europeans are going to be tough. They come with a lot of momentum and have all that shot-making ability. They are used to playing in all types of conditions from monsoons to droughts to hurricane force winds.

"But I think some of the young guys for the U.S. side are really going to show up and contribute. I’m hoping and thinking they may win by half a point or a point to win the cup. It is just strange how the U.S. can win the President’s Cup all the time, but just can’t seem to win the Ryder Cup. Hopefully, this time will be different.”

Rob Wilson
Host, "Double Bogey Blues" radio show

"I doubt the U.S. has any chance of winning. The European team is just way stronger and plays better as a team. History has shown it time and time again. The Euros are much closer on their tour. They all travel together and hang out socially.

"I think Azinger did pretty well with his picks, but I would have definitely asked Fred Couples if he could have played. Fred would have gotten his game ready and he would have performed and been a great veteran leader for the U.S. side.

"For the first-time players, it is a whole new experience. Week to week on tour, these guys are just out there for themselves. If they don’t perform well, it doesn’t affect anyone else. Now they are wearing the red, white and blue and have a whole team and a whole country counting on them. It has to be a lot of pressure. Ultimately, the Europeans just have a better team. I have a feeling the Sunday matches won’t even matter, the U.S. will be down so bad. Sunday will just be for fun."

Todd Sadowski
Host, "Eastern Golf TV"

“In my opinion, the U.S. Ryder Cup team is clearly the underdog heading into the competition. I'd like to think the team will rally around the fact that Tiger Woods will not be able to play, but I'm not so sure that's enough to beat the Europeans. 

"Golf is such a mental game and the Euros know they dominate the Americans in the Ryder Cup. They grew up with the match play format and are much closer as teammates than the U.S.”


Thursday, Sept. 18
Opening Ceremonies, 3-5 p.m. ESPNews

Friday, Sept. 19
Day 1 competition, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ESPN
Four alternate shot matches, four 4-ball matches

Saturday, Sept. 20
Day 2 competition, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. NBC
Four alternate shot matches, four 4-ball matches

Sunday, Sept. 21
Day 3 competition, 12-6 p.m. NBC
12 singles matches

Issue 3.38: September 18, 2008