Continental golfing warfare is upon us. Every two years, the Ryder Cup arrives bigger and louder than before, as the world's best players pick up clubs and attempt to put an 'I' in teams Europe and USA.
The Ryder Cup is now bigger than the majors. It's the golf event most likely to draw in the "good-walk-spoiled" haters, and it's given us some of the most iconic moments in recent sporting history.
Many of them have come on Ryder Cup Sunday—perhaps the most thrilling proposition golf has to offer. With 12 singles matches back-to-back, and a trophy to be won, watching these contests ebb and flow is sporting theatre of the finest order.
Here are five singles matches I'd love to see play out this year at Gleneagles.
1. Rory McIlroy vs. Rickie Fowler
McIlroy is the crowned prince of golf, with two majors in the bag for 2014 and the world at his club face. He's destined for greatness and everybody knows it.
Fowler is the man who would be his rival. The 25-year-old achieved top-5 finishes at all four majors this season and was denied by McIlroy at the recent US PGA Championship—"glory's last shot" as they call it.
In a Ryder Cup year, however, there's one more shot at glory to come. And what if involved these two good friends, with the brightest of futures, going at it on Sunday in the singles?
2. Ian Poulter vs. Keegan Bradley
"I've made no secret how badly I want to go back and win the Ryder Cup," said the always excitable Keegan Bradley in August.
He's the man USA captain Tom Watson has dubbed "the American Ian Poulter", based on his overflowing passion for the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy echoed that theme when he said both Bradley and Poulter were "nuts".
Bradley had a great debut in 2012, albeit in a losing side. Poulter, as we all know, has made himself Europe's 'Mr Ryder Cup'.
If you want a hyped-up showdown of fist-pumping, putt-sinking, "COME ON!!!!!" match play on Sunday, this should be your battle of choice.
3. Stephen Gallacher vs. Bubba Watson
Thirty-nine-year-old Scot Gallacher was a captain's pick by Paul McGinley and will be making his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles. His inclusion plays to the home crowd, and the arc of his recovery from illness to appear on such a grand stage is a heartwarming one.
What a contrast it would be to see the relatively unknown Gallacher line up against Watson, who claimed a second green jacket at Augusta this year and is face as familiar as any in golf these days.
Watson has his fans, but there are plenty who have found elements of his on-and-off course behaviour hard to bear in recent times. There could be a chance for European fans to get inside Bubba's head, and a match like this would be the perfect opportunity.
4. Sergio Garcia vs. Phil Mickelson
Sergio is 34, and already Ryder Cup royalty. El Nino has played on six teams and been victorious with four of them. Last time around he enjoyed the celebrations more than most—see the clip of Europe's riotous press conference for evidence.
There's no particular rivalry to speak of with Mickelson, but what you get here is two of the game's great shot-makers going at it when it matters most.
Both are unafraid of taking risks. Both will make mistakes. But the wonder here would be watching how they atone for those mistakes, and seeing two of the modern game's most iconic players bringing an A-List show to the masses.
5. Lee Westwood vs. Jim Furyk
Furyk has had two years being reminded of that missed putt in 2012. His captain Watson has been talking up the theme of redemption and Furyk's would be the sweetest kind—especially when you factor in his failure to win a tournament since 2010.
This battle of seasoned fighters—Furyk is 44, Westwood 41—would showcase the Ryder Cup's ability to draw out raw emotion from players we're used to seeing stay calm. That's what makes it such a revealing, and riveting spectacle.
Westwood is still without a major and will be looking to remind the world of his ability to have an impact. Furyk has about as much motivation as you could want to make Sunday at Gleneagles a triumph.
Wild card: Ian Poulter vs. Michael Jordan
We're not sure if basketball legend Michael Jordan will make it to Scotland, but if he does, watch for an appearance during a match featuring Poulter.
Jordan followed Pouter at Medinah in 2012 and tried to put him off with hand gestures and allegedly a "jab in the chest with his fist" between holes. It didn't work.
Said Poulter: "I’m a little golfer, Ian Poulter. playing golf in the Ryder Cup, and there’s Michael Jordan psyching me out. I’m like, ‘This is amazing, this is what I live for, this is what makes sport great.'"
Bet on the 2014 Ryder Cup now.