The excitement and atmosphere has just reached a new level at Royal Melbourne, after the announcement of the pairings for the opening day’s foursomes of the 2011 Presidents Cup.
|The opening USA pairing of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Photo: Richard Fellner/Inside Golf|
Let’s check out each of the six matches, and make a few silly predictions on how they might pan out.
Match 1 (1:05pm): Els/Ishikawa v Watson/Simpson
When Greg Norman announced the opening pair of Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa, there was an audible gasp from Fred Couples. Explaining later, it wasn’t in shock but more excitement as he appreciated how good that pair will be.
Ryo Ishikawa arrived late to Melbourne and had course record holder Els, (12-under 60, Heineken Classic 2004) showing him around the Royal Melbourne fairways today. As good as this pairing may be, Watson and Simpson wanted to be paired together and wanted to lead the USA Team out. They might get the point against a rusty Els and young Ishikawa combination.
Prediction: USA 3up
Anyone paired with local boy Geoff Ogilvy around Royal Melbourne must be happy. Charl Schwartzel looked to be hitting the ball very sweetly today and it’ll be hard for Haas and Watney to beat this pairing.
Schwartzel and Ogilvy have admitted they may find it tough choosing which player to tee off first given they are such similar golfers.
The dynamic Haas and Watney are incredible golfers, but the very fast greens and Ogilvy’s local knowledge tips the scales in favour of the Internationals in this match.
Prediction: Intls 4up
Match 3: (1:29pm) Day/Baddeley v Johnson/Kuchar
This is the most exciting match-up in my book. Two Aussie young guns up against the power pairing of Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.
Baddeley’s experience at Royal Melbourne should make up for some patchy recent form but it is such a hard match to predict. I think this could go either way and I’m going to sit on the fence on this one.
Prediction: All square
Match 4: (1:41pm) Goosen/Allenby v Mickelson/Furyk
These pairings seem a little odd to me and it will be interesting to see how they gel. Allenby had good form until last week’s Australian Open and Goosen brings plenty of experience to the International Team.
The Mickelson/Furyk combination oozes experiences but Furyk admitted today he would have preferred a couple more rounds on the course before the real stuff started.
Prediction: Intls 1up
Match 5: (1:53pm) Yang/Kim v Mahan/Toms
There is some form behind this Korean pair. Yang and Kim played together on three occasions this year during the Korea v Japan matchplay event and they won all three matches.
I think the Americans will be liking this match though. The golf game of David Toms and Hunter Mahan suit this course and will be tough to beat tomorrow.
Prediction: USA 2up
Match 6: (2:05pm) Scott/Choi v Woods/Stricker
Aside from the near-dark match between Els and Woods in South Africa in 2003, this may be the biggest match in Presidents Cup history. The match has obviously garnered huge media interest since the controversial comments by Williams a few weeks ago, and it will be won by the team that settles into the stadium football like atmosphere the quickest.
It is such an enticing match-up aside from the controversy with the experienced, older heads of Choi and Stricker part of the action. If Stricker gets on a putting roll like he did in 2007, the Internationals, or anyone else for that matter, have no chance.
Prediction: USA 1up