On paper there’s very little to separate Team Europe and Team America for this year’s Ryder Cup. Maybe the home advantage or the Medinah memories give Europe a slight edge, but for the most part it’s tough to pick a favourite.
There’s been a tiny bit of smack talk from Phil Mickelson regarding the dispute between Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, but Europe’s mild reaction is a good indicator that both Northern Irish gofers have gone to Gleneagles looking to play golf.
Aside from that spat there’s a unified feeling on both sides of the red/blue divide and the practice rounds have revealed some partnership planning. The team ethos is huge this week, but maybe even more important over the first two days are the partnerships and America looks fairly settled in that regard.
The solid combination of Keegan Bradley and Mickelson have played together for three practice rounds, joined by Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.
Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson have also spent 54 holes preparing together, along with stalwarts Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson, while the experience of Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk will help to calm the fresh-faced Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the man who sank the putt to win at Medinah, summed up the situation during his Thursday press conference.
“We have calm players and America has calm players. There are so many individual players and golf has become so spread out in personalities and characters. The beauty of the Ryder Cup is the bond that you make with other players that you don’t normally spend time with. I think there is a fun atmosphere and you have to find a balance. But when you need to be focused you have to be 100 per cent there,” he said.
European partnerships have been the real talking point, with Kaymer spending plenty of time alongside McIlroy. They were joined by Sergio Garcia and Thomas Bjorn.
Seasoned campaigners McDowell and Lee Westwood are steady guides for their practice partners Stephen Gallacher and Victor Dubuisson. Less in need of guidance is Ian Poulter, who shared his rounds with Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Jamie Donaldson.
Both teams have an impressive haul of players and each contains four of the world’s top 10. Right now the talk is about what may happen over the next few days, because these two teams are equally potent.