Bryce Ritchie and Michael McEwan share their initial thoughts on potential pairings for the Friday morning fourballs.
The European pairings, by Bryce Ritchie
7.35am : Rory McIlroy / Ian Poulter
The off-course legal dispute between G-Mac and Rory almost rubber-stamps this pairing. It’s top-loaded, which is a favourite tactic of Sam Torrance, of course. Get off to fast start and get the crowd going.
7.50am : Sergio Garcia / Lee Westwood
Sergio needs a strong partner now that his Ryder Cup pal Luke Donald didn’t get a pick from McGinley – and Westwood is the next best thing. His form might be twitchy, but you’d expect a player of Westwood’s experience to rise to the occasion. Garcia might be the one to inspire him to do that. They also have history, having played together seven times, losing only once, with four wins.
8.05am : Justin Rose / Martin Kaymer
Potentially a strange one, I admit, but I like the look of them together. Both quiet, but capable of being pumped up when needed. Kaymer was rumoured to be practising with Nike balls, but I’m sticking with this match-up all the same.
8.20am : Henrik Stenson / Graeme McDowell
G-Mac is a popular partner for anyone, and these two would seem to hit it off. Stenson likes a chat, and G-Mac can chat with the best of them.
The US pairings, by Michael McEwan
7.35am : Phil Mickelson / Keegan Bradley
The biggest mistake 2012 captain Davis Love III made at Medinah was resting this indomitable pairing on Saturday afternoon after they’d won three matches out of three. It’s hard to imagine Tom Watson making the same blunder this year, especially when you consider they improved their record together at last year’s Presidents Cup to read: won five, halved one, lost one.
7.50am : Bubba Watson / Webb Simpson
If the reports are true, Webb Simpson earned a pick from Tom Watson largely because of his compatibility with Masters champion and No.1 ranked golfer on the US qualification points list Bubba. I watched all 12 American players on the course yesterday and they looked the only ones having fun and interacting with each other. Two wins out of three at Medinah would also suggest they’re an obvious pairing.
8.05am : Matt Kuchar / Jordan Spieth
Ying and yang in so many ways … but that’s why they’re perfect for each other. Kuchar, the laid back veteran of what will be his third match; Spieth, the animated rookie. Remember: partnering the 21-year-old with the experienced Steve Stricker – not unlike Kuchar in demeanour – at last year’s President’s Cup paid off handsomely.
8.30am : Rickie Fowler / Jimmy Walker
Another mix of ‘youth and experience’, these two teamed-up together in Tuesday’s practice round to take on Mickelson and Bradley in a bounce match. Why are they such a perfect match? Well, Oklahoma, for one thing. Fowler attended Oklahoma State University, whilst Walker was born and brought up in Oklahoma City. They’d be an effective partnership.
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