Match 2 Breakdown: Casey & Hovland vs. Johnson & Morikawa
KOHLER, Wis. – With the opening matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup just hours away, we now know who will strike the first tee shots at Whistling Straits. Here’s a look at how the pairings stack up in Match 2, where the Europeans will send out Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland to square off with the American duo of Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa.
How the U.S. will win: This pairing is a ringing endorsement of Morikawa, who struggled in recent weeks while battling a back injury but clearly has earned the faith of Captain Stricker. Morikawa’s two major titles indicate he knows a thing or two about handling pressure, and Johnson’s Ryder Cup record is better than many realize outside of a rough outing in 2018 outside Paris. There might not be a better iron player in the field than Morikawa, and if Johnson gives him opportunities with well-placed drives this one could be over in a hurry.
How Europe will win: Youth meets experience. Hovland is the youngest player on the European Team, and he’ll have the 44-year-old Englishman to guide him through the opening-day gauntlet. Casey is 1-1 in Foursomes and Hovland’s game seems particularly well-suited for the format. If they remain even-keeled through the first few holes as the Norwegian gets his footing, they could surprise in a match where the more decorated Americans will likely feel like favorites.
Key to the match: This could come down to the performance of Hovland, a rookie for whom expectations are particularly high this week. The Europeans probably aren’t counting on a full point in this match, but if he is able to acquit himself well – particularly on and around the greens where his short game can sometimes falter – the road team could surprise here in a result that could pave the way for a monster debut for the Norwegian.