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Hooks and Cuts

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Truth is, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are no better than eighth and 10th on their team right now. Has there ever been a great player as unreliable from 5 feet as Phil?

• How different would the vibe be right now had Francesco Molinari missed the bunny at 18?

• Monty is nothing short of brilliant in the press center. He’s bright, funny, and engaging. That’s with a three-point lead. If this somehow collapses, that media gathering could be one for the dark ages.

• It’s a big 'if' because Lee Westwood’s in a deep, comfortable zone, but if Steve Stricker can take out Westwood in that first match the U.S. might have a fighting chance.

• Journalistic impartiality doesn’t live at the Ryder Cup in Europe. When Molinari made the putt at 18 the press room burst out in applause.

• Luke Donald doesn’t strike fear into the heart of an opponent, pleasant more than pugnacious, a student of fine art at Northwestern. But he’s proven his mettle, with Ian Poulter saying that “he’s reserved, but inside there’s one helluva fire burning.”

• Corey Pavin is getting roasted by the pundits for his bland public persona. It may be unfair because he is who he is, but the nicknames Borey Pavin and Captain Charisma are making the rounds.

• Westwood said he’s stronger and fitter than he’s ever been and it’s translating to his golf. Caddie Billy Foster said he missed just two shots in two days.

• Don’t you wonder even a little what it feels like, to make a giant crowd explode with joy? Poulter describes it this way: “To hole an 8 foot putt and turn around and see 40,000 fans go crazy is the most incredible adrenaline rush. It’s what you live for.”

• Westwood remembers 1999: “I’ve never seen grown men cry like I did in that locker room at Brookline.” The similarities end with the sizeable lead. Monty is not Mark James, and Europe is much deeper, one through 12, than they were 11 years ago. Oh, and there is the other not so small factor of 40,000 worshippers elevating the Euro spirit.

• What are the chances that Tiger could end up 0-2 against Italians in Ryder Cup singles? Costantino Rocca took him apart in ’97. Now it’s Francesco’s turn.

• Some tasty matchups include Dustin Johnson against Martin Kaymer for PGA Championship payback; Jim Furyk against Luke Donald with more than 10 million on the line; Ross Fisher against Jeff Overton in a battle of Ryder Cup overachievers; and Miguel Angel Jimenez against Bubba Watson in a lost in translation special.