Poulter to lead by example

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: September 30 2012, 13:07 BST

Our Ben Coley has previewed all 12 of today's Ryder Cup singles matches and thinks Ian Poulter can star for Europe again.

Poulter: Can keep his winning run going

Saturday night's stunning run from Ian Poulter gave Europe a faint glimmer of hope ahead of this afternoon's singles, as they bid to retain the Ryder Cup.

Remember, 14 points would be enough for Europe to retain the trophy, and while the aim on Friday was to win it outright, clearly a 14-14 draw would be a fine result.

That will require the greatest fightback in the history of the competition, however. Since it was reformated, only once have a team come back from 10-6 to win, and that was American on home soil some 13 years ago.

Predictably, both captains have loaded the top of their orders with in-form players, and Europe will look at the matches and know that they are good enough to get back into this if they raise their performance levels.

The concern is that, should they do so, the bottom of the order looks very weak and it's clear that some out-of-form players will have to find it from somewhere if Europe are to pull this off.

Bubba Watson v Luke Donald (1703 BST)

Donald shot 64 with his own ball yesterday as he carried Garcia to victory, whereas Watson took a backseat as his partner Simpson stunned Molinari and Rose with a birdie blitz.

Donald can take heart from a 2-1-0 singles record, as well as the fact that Watson was beaten by Miguel Angel Jimenez two years ago, and you just get the feeling that the American will be better off with a partner over the years.

Indeed, Europe can take last year's Presidents Cup as encouragement as although the International side lost, they won the first four singles on Sunday to mount a comeback and Watson was among those beaten.

Verdict: Donald 2&1

Webb Simpson v Ian Poulter (1714)

What can you say about Ian Poulter? No superlatives do justice to his performance yesterday, when he carried the world number one to victory over a previously unbeaten US pairing. It was quite simply the most stunning Ryder Cup performance I've ever witnessed.

Can he do it again against the most impressive of the Americans from yesterday's fourballs? His record says yes, with three wins from three in singles, plus wins in both big match play events.

Simpson was truly brilliant on the greens yesterday afternoon, but he did show signs of waywardness in the morning and it's reasonable to expect Poulter to be hitting from the fairway more often.

Like Watson, Simpson lost his singles match in the Presidents Cup and although this will be tight, evens about Poulter in any one Ryder Cup match is beginning to look too good to refuse.

Verdict: Poulter 2&1

Keegan Bradley v Rory McIlroy (1725)

So, I predict a fast start for Europe, and the layers have them favourites in each of the top three matches. However, unlike the above pair, McIlroy makes very little appeal at evens.

The world number one might have two points to show for his four matches, but in truth he has performed close to his best only once this week and it was disappointing how few birdies he made yesterday having consistently hit drives 300+ down the fairway.

This is a different test for Bradley, away from the comfort of playing with Mickelson, but three matches and three wins should have him feeling just fine here.

Remember, he won the PGA Championship via a four-hole play-off, effectively match play, and might just be the USA equivalent of Poulter in years to come.

Expect Rory to up his game, but the percentage call here just has to be a home point.

Verdict: Bradley 2&1

Phil Mickelson v Justin Rose (1736)

Mickelson is 4-4-0 in singles and interestingly lost 3&2 to Rose at Valhalla four years ago, when the pair also went out fourth.

The omens, then, are very good for Rose, who is a tenacious battler capable of grinding most opponents into submission if he can get a few putts to drop.

That hasn't really been the case so far though and although seeing his best friend Ian Poulter produce the goods last night will be a massive inspiration, it may take more to beat the American who has played excellent golf on a course that doesn't punish his waywardness.

Verdict: Mickelson 4&3

Brandt Snedeker v Paul Lawrie (1747)

It seems remarkable to me that this is the first match that sees the layers unanimously agree on an odds-on favour, USA rookie Snedeker.

Of course, Snedeker has played pretty well so far with one win and one defeat from his two matches alongside Furyk, and as arguably the best putter on the American side is always going to be tough to beat.

Lawrie, meanwhile, has played twice, been beaten twice, and by his own admission simply hasn't holed enough putts.

So, I understand that Snedeker should be favourite, but I couldn't take odds-on. Lawrie is a tough, tough player who made a run to the semi-finals of the Volvo World Match Play in the spring, and he can take this down the last.

Verdict: match halved

Dustin Johnson v Nicolas Colsaerts (1758)

If I were at Medinah, this is the match I'd go to see as two of the most naturally gifted and explosive players go head-to-head.

Of course, DJ has the momentum advantage as it was his birdie putt that so cruely denied Colsaerts anything from their fourball match yesterday, the Belgian having again played superbly without seeing anything drop.

The disappointment on his face was clear and the more I see of this new Colsaerts, the more I think he's the type to respond with a big performance.

He'll need it against Johnson, but for me Colsaerts is the better putter at this moment in time and I can see him winning a huge point for Europe in emphatic fashion.

Verdict: Colsaerts 3&2

Zach Johnson v Graeme McDowell (1809)

From here, life begins to get even tougher for Europe. McDowell has played three and won just one this week, although it has to be said he's made life tough for opponents along the way.

He'll need to capture the spirit of 2010, when he famously beat Hunter Mahan to win the Ryder Cup for Europe, if he's to beat the in-form Johnson.

Zach wouldn't have looked the type for this course but has formed an impressive partnership with Jason Dufner, and his shot to the 17th yesterday demonstrated that he's unflappable, even when Poulter is firing in birdies from all over the place.

Had he been up against someone with a significant length advantage there may have been grounds for taking him on, but that's not the case and he's rightly marginal favourite.

Verdict: Johnson 1up

Jim Furyk v Sergio Garcia (1820)

It's fair to say that Sergio will have to play better if he's to gain his second point, having by his own admission been carried to victory by Donald yesterday.

Furyk seemed to match Snedeker during their two matches and has really found form of late, while his 4-2-1 singles record reads significantly better than Garcia's 1-4-0.

Will Garcia be inspired by wearing Seve blue? One would hope so, but on this week's form plus overall singles records it's Furyk who looks the more likely winner.

Verdict: Furyk 2&1

Jason Dufner v Peter Hanson (1831)

Hanson came into this in fine form and according to reports was one of the most impressive Europeans in practice, but so far he's taken to the course once and been on the wrong end of a thumping defeat.

Alongside Lawrie, the Swede really showed very little on Friday evening and seemed to struggle badly on the greens, and having lost to Mickelson two years ago he has it all to prove.

Dufner has been excellent all week and didn't crumble under the Poulter barrage, even if ultimately he lost a previously perfect Ryder Cup record. He's said that this course fits him perfectly, and a solid putting performance should be enough for him to win this match.

Verdict: Dufner 4&3

Matt Kuchar v Lee Westwood (1842)

So far, it's been a forgettable Ryder Cup for Westwood, who has struggled badly on and around the greens.

And like Garcia, he owns a surprisingly bad 2-5-0 singles record, so it's little surprise that Kuchar is made favourite for this match.

The current Players' Champion has enjoyed playing alongside Dustin Johnson this week, winning both matches, and he's been typically excellent from inside 20 feet.

Westwood hasn't set up enough birdie chances and unless that changes it's difficult to see him getting anything from this match, even if Kuchar was thumped by Poulter two years ago.

Verdict: Kuchar 3&2

Steve Stricker v Martin Kaymer (1853)

The least inspiring match on the card and one which may not produce a great deal of birdies if this week's form is anything to go by.

Kaymer's struggles have been well-documented and despite his bullish reports there's little evidence to suggest he's capable of producing a winning round of golf unless helped by his opponent.

That's perfectly possible, as although Stricker showed signs of life yesterday he did uncharacteristically miss from close range on the final hole, confirming defeat to Garcia and Donald.

Stricker is the more likely winner, but no more so than is reflected in the prices.

Verdict: Stricker 2&1

Tiger Woods v Francesco Molinari (1904)

Woods has received criticism all week and to an extent rightly so, as while all around them have contributed, he and Stricker have lost all three of their matches, contributing to half of the European total.

However, in fairness to Woods he did shoot seven-under in the Friday fourballs, only to be beaten by an incredible round of approximately 62 from Colsaerts, and he shot 31 on the back nine yesterday.

So, a quick start is essential for Molinari, and he got that against Woods two years ago before crumbling to a 4&3 singles defeat.

He's been a little unfortunate this week having played some excellent golf only to be found lacking in support, but out on his own against Woods he may well struggle.

Verdict: Woods 4&3

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