Sobel: Predicting All 12 Ryder Cup Singles Matches

Sobel: Predicting All 12 Ryder Cup Singles Matches article feature image

Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Europe golfer Rory McIlroy shakes hands with United States golfer Justin Thomas on the 15th hole during the Ryder Cup Saturday afternoon matches at Le Golf National.

  • Europe holds a 10-6 of the U.S. after Day 2 of the 2018 Ryder Cup with singles matches on tap for Sunday.
  • Jason Sobel predicts two U.S. veterans pulling off wins in their respective sessions, leading to a down-to-the-wire final match on Day 3.

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Back in 1999, with his U.S. team trailing Europe by a score of 10-6 on Saturday night, captain Ben Crenshaw wagged his finger, looked toward the TV cameras at the back of the room and famously said, “I’m going to leave y’all with one thought. I’m a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this.”

The rest is history. His team won the next day. Eleven years later, with his own team in a similar situation, down 9.5-6.5, Corey Pavin didn’t quite employ the same motivational tactics.

In his news conference the night before the singles session, I tried to spoon feed him the line, asking if he had a good feeling. He replied, “You know, Ben’s Ben and I’m me. I’m going to put the guys out in the order that I think gives us best chance to win. They have to go out and perform and play, and if they do, I think we have a chance.”

The rest of this one is also history. His team lost the next day.

Twelve of the world’s best golfers, competing for country and pride, shouldn’t need to be inspired to arrive at Le Golf National on Sunday and try to match the record for greatest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history.

But it also couldn’t hurt for captain Jim Furyk to have a solid rallying cry prepared for his guys.

The Americans will enter Sunday’s singles session trailing 10-6. Do they have a chance? Absolutely. A good chance? Well … let’s break ’em all down and see.

Match 1: Justin Thomas (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy (EUR)

Odds: Thomas -125, McIlroy -105

It’s really too bad both captains didn’t put a decent player into the first spot in this blind draw, huh? Really, though, what a match to kick things off.

As long as Rory doesn’t sleep through his alarm again, he should be able to give JT all he can handle, but I think the American comes out firing in this one and holds off his opponent in the end.

Prediction: USA

Match 2: Brooks Koepka (USA) vs. Paul Casey (EUR)

Odds: Koepka -125, Casey -105

There aren’t many players around who are more intimidating to match up against in a head-to-head format than Koepka, but the wily veteran Casey shouldn’t get too ruffled. I’m taking brains over brawn in this one, as Casey’s experience — and rest from sitting in the afternoon sessions — should prevail.

Prediction: Europe

 Match 3: Webb Simpson (USA) vs. Justin Rose (EUR)

Odds: Simpson +140, Rose -170

More than one player has compared Le Golf National this week to TPC Sawgrass. And who won on that course this year? Oh, that’s right — it was Simpson. He played beautifully in foursomes on Saturday afternoon and I think he can keep things rolling in an upset here over the erstwhile No. 1-ranked player in the world.

Prediction: USA

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Match 4: Tiger Woods (USA) vs. Jon Rahm (EUR)

Odds: Woods -130, Rahm EVEN

I was fully prepared to fade Tiger to win in singles. There’s just something a bit off right now. I don’t think he’s injured, but he doesn’t quite seem healthy, either. That said, I think he can still take down Rahm, who might have trouble dialing down his aggressive play in this match.

Prediction: USA

Match 5: Tony Finau (USA) vs. Tommy Fleetwood (EUR)

Odds: Finau +120, Fleetwood -150

Just as I wasn’t prepared to pick Tiger, I was prepared to take Finau to win — against just about any other opponent. But the rookie drew the short straw here, having to play against Fairway Jesus, who is vying to become the first player in European history to go 5-0-0 for the week. I think Fleetwood will do it.

Prediction: Europe

Match 6: Dustin Johnson (USA) vs. Ian Poulter (EUR)

Odds: Johnson, -145, Poulter +115

What a matchup of complete and total opposites. If this were a boxing match, they’d bill it as: Fire and Ice. While Poulter’s eyes will be popping out of his skull every time he holes a putt, DJ will be regularly checked to see if he still has a pulse. Following two days of mediocre play, I think the American turns around his ball striking and takes this one.

Prediction: USA

Match 7: Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Thorbjorn Olesen (EUR)

Odds: Spieth -195, Olesen +160

Prior to this week, Spieth said a team victory would salvage a lost season for him. He might not get that, but he’s certainly been one of the few bright spots for the U.S. squad. Going against Olesen, the lone player to sit out all of Saturday, might be bad luck for the U.S. team, which could’ve used him against a tougher opponent.

Prediction: USA

Match 8: Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia (EUR)

Odds: Fowler -120, Garcia -110

On the heels of what’s been a putrid year for Garcia, I’m still not convinced that he can ride this wave of Ryder Cup magic through Sunday. Expect some mistakes from Sergio, while Rickie plays steady golf and wins a handful of holes with pars.

Prediction: USA

Match 9: Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Francesco Molinari (EUR)

Odds: Mickelson +190, Molinari -235

When predicting regression, golf isn’t much different than other sports. If a baseball player goes 4-for-4 with two home runs on Friday and Saturday, you can either expect him to stay hot on Sunday or presume the law of averages will finally kick in.

And so, even though Molinari is 4-0-0 so far, I’m expecting him to come out languishing in this one, while Mickelson pulls off a mighty upset in what he knows could be the final Ryder Cup match of his career.

Prediction: USA

Match 10: Patrick Reed (USA) vs. Tyrrell Hatton (EUR)

Odds: Reed -110, Hatton -120

What in the world has happened to Captain America? Apparently he’s been demoted — or maybe even court-martialed — this week. Reed has looked inconsistent, unsure, maybe even nervous. I don’t expect him to turn around his game so quickly. Give the nod to Hatton, who has played well.

Prediction: Europe

Match 11: Bubba Watson (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson (EUR)

Odds: +120, Stenson -150

This was never going to be a solid course fit for Bubba, especially with the breezy conditions, as he likes to work the ball each way. Meanwhile, it is a great fit for Stenson, who keeps belting low stingers down the fairways and shouldn’t have much of a problem in this match.

Prediction: Europe

Match 12: Bryson DeChambeau (USA) vs. Alex Noren (EUR)

Odds: DeChambeau -115, Noren -115

Can you believe the entire Ryder Cup might come down to two players who have only played a pair of foursomes matches all week? Noren, who won on this course a few months ago, is the stronger player, but hasn’t looked the part lately.

I think DeChambeau has some fight in him, but I can see this going down to the wire. In what could be the tensest match in event history, if everything shakes out this way, let’s call this one … a draw.

Prediction: Halved

Just in case you haven’t been keeping a running tally of the predicted points as you read this far, here’s the total: Europe 14.5, USA 13.5.

If it happens this way, set the DVR to forever “Do Not Erase” — and let the next two years of second guessing Furyk and bemoaning American team play commence.