European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has thrown Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher into the Ryder Cup fire by giving him Ian Poulter as a partner in the third match out tomorrow morning at Gleneagles.
Gallacher will make his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles at 8.05am alongside Poulter, matching up against US rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.
On picking Gallacher to experience the first tee atmosphere in the morning fourballs, Paul McGinley said it was down to Gallacher’s form and experience on the golf course that tipped the decision in his favour.
“His form around this golf course is very strong,” said McGinley. “The wind conditions forecast for the morning are right up his street. He doesn’t have to prove anything. Just go and be Stevie.”
And with a slight chirpiness in his words, he added: “He’ll enjoy the prospect playing his first Ryder cup match. And with Ian Poulter on your shoulder, who wouldn’t?”
Unlike US counterpart Tom Watson, McGinley said many of his pairings had been known for some time. Watson, in contrast, said he’d only decided on half his pairings following the practice sessions. “It became a little bit more concrete when we got here,” he confirmed.
"He doesn’t have to prove anything. Just go and be Stevie" - Paul McGinley
McGinley said he has his players in a pod system “like Paul Azinger did in the past” and feels that’s working for him right now. But it may change, he added.
The Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell partnership – corrupted by the ‘litigate’ scandal, perhaps - didn’t happen. McDowell, who hit the first tee shot at Medinah and won the first point, has been benched, with McGinley saying the friendship formed by Garcia and McIlroy over the summer was too hard to ignore.
“Graeme is a big player,” said the European skipper. “He’d love to be out tomorrow, he loves the big atmosphere – but there will be other big atmospheres this week.”
Both McIlroy and Garcia, he said, spoke to him at the BMW at Wentworth and asked to be paired together. He decided on the pairing after the US PGA at Valhalla. “There’s a lot of bonding going on,” he said “They compliment each other. It’s a natural fit.”
Either Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson will hit the first shot. Watson has said he will not stand in the way of Watson if he decided to ramp up the crowd before he tees off. “If he wants to do that tomorrow, that’s fine with me,” he said.
Ryder Cup :: Friday morning fourballs
Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson
Bubba Watson & Webb Simpson
Thomas Bjorn & Martin Kaymer
Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker
Stephen Gallacher & Ian Poulter
Patrick Reed & Jordan Spieth
Rory McIlroy & Sergio Garcia
Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson
Paul McGinley and his first session picks :: Your thoughts
What do you make of the pairings and matches announced this afternoon by Paul McGinley for the opening session of the 2014 Ryder Cup? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.