Weíre not golf experts and we donít play them on TV. Just four guys from the newspaper who watch a lot of golf and love to sit around and talk about the game.
Weíll be out at Medinah Country Club all week for the 39th Ryder Cup. But before we go, hereís what weíre talking about.
Whatís the one thing you canít wait to see this week?
Len Ziehm: Rory vs. Tiger, but weíd have to wait until the last day to see that. I think what will be interesting is how the crowd reacts to Luke Donald ó a popular local player playing for the enemy.
Mike Spellman: The first tee first thing Friday morning.
John Dietz: Just how excited Ryder Cup crowds respond in important matches ó that should be a lot of fun.
Joe Aguilar: The enthusiasm of the players. When I covered the Solheim Cup a few years ago, the women were real and fun and engaging Ö I want to see the guys in that same atmosphere, and see if theyíre the same way.
Weíve all played Medinah, but weíve never played it with the rough this low. Is it going to be a birdiefest?
Dietz: I think it will be. When the PGA was there (2006), the pros ate up that course and the rough was six inches. We didnít even play that terribly when we played it from the tips. I think theyíre going to eat it up.
Ziehm: Medinah has never been set up like this for any real serious competition, or for the members. Thatís a tough golf course and my suspicion is it should be set up this way more often.
Aguilar: Whether itís tough or easy, itís still going to be exciting, and past Ryder Cups have proved that. Itís going to be exciting whether itís a lot of birdies or a lot of bogeys.
Dietz: I agree with that. Itís going to be a lot of fun to see it that way.
If you were on the U.S. team, who is the one European, other than Rory McIlroy, that you wouldnít want to face?
Spellman: Ian Poulter just seems like a beast in this kind of competition.
Ziehm: Lee Westwood. His consistency over the years has been very good. Heís a wily kind of guy who would make a tough opponent. He knows what heís doing.
Aguilar: Justin Rose has been playing well. He won here last year at the BMW. Heís a player I really like and I expect him to do well.
Dietz: Len brought him up earlier: I wouldnít want to face Luke Donald. Heís been very tough in Ryder Cups ó I think his winning percentage is almost 80 percent in his Ryder Cup matches (8-2-1).
Who is the guy the U.S. will need to do well in order for the team to do well?
Aguilar: I think, even though heís had a mediocre record in the Ryder Cup, itís Tiger. If Tiger plays well, that will give the U.S. team momentum and the crowd will really get into it. Weíve seen what kind of effect he has on crowds, and I wouldnít be surprised if it rubs off on his teammates.
Dietz: I hate to take the easy way out, but Joeís right. You take out his record in singles matches and for a golfer of his caliber, heís been terrible in the Ryder Cup. He needs to have a huge weekend.
Ziehm: Iím intrigued with how Brandt Snedeker might do. Heís a real streaky player, a great putter and a rookie. Thereís just something about him that makes me think he might have a real impact.
Spellman: Iíll go with Phil Mickelson ó terrible through most of the year but much better toward the end. They need him, big time.
What U.S. rookie will garner the most points?
Ziehm: Jason Dufner, I think. He did a smart thing recently when he skipped the first playoff tournament, which was a surprise at the time, but this is a pretty heavy stretch of golf. He obviously must have needed the break. Maybe some of that was designed in hopes of good play in the last few weeks of the season.
Dietz: Iím going to take a stab here and say Keegan Bradley. Of the four rookies on the team, heís got the best final round scoring average by far.
Aguilar: Iím going to go with Keegan Bradley, too. After what he did last year in winning a major, and heís still playing well. And heís got good genes, being Pat Bradleyís nephew.
Spellman: Iím going to make it 2 against 2 here and go with Dufner. Just the blood pressure factor; the guy doesnít seem to get nervous at all.
Itís Sunday singles and itís Tiger vs. Rory. If youíre the U.S. captain, which player takes on Graeme McDowell?
Ziehm: I think Iíd put Phil up against him. For no other reason than it would be an established star against an established star kind of thing. You couldnít go wrong putting Phil up against anybody. That would be a heck of a good match. Iíd like to see it.
Spellman: Iíd go with Stricker, a nice low-key guy. That would be some good, steady golf between those two.
Dietz: Iíd go against that thinking and put Bubba Watson out there.
Spellman: Wow, we havenít even mentioned Bubba Watson yet.
Dietz: Talk about excitement!
Aguilar: I just know this: it would be fun to watch Bubba on the Par 4 15th hole if he were down one.
Now for the big question: who is going to win the 39th Ryder Cup?
Aguilar: If you look at it on paper, itís a no-brainer ó itís Europe. But all that said, and knowing how bad I am at predicting things, Iím going to go with the U.S. I donít know how, but I think a new hero will emerge and the U.S. will pull it out somehow.
Ziehm: I think itís going to be a pretty clear victory for Europe. To me, itís Europe by maybe a 3-point margin.
Spellman: Iíve been leading toward Europe the whole time, but for some reason Iíll go with the U.S. just squeaking by with my man Dufner winning 3 big points.
Dietz: Iíve been thinking Europe. Maybe the home-field advantage can come through for the U.S., but Iím just going to go with Europe. Iíll go a little closer than Len and say by a point and a half.
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