Tom Watson didn’t take the conservative route, at least not with his four-ball pairings for the first session of the Ryder Cup on Friday.
The Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson-Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler-Jimmy Walker pairings were as obvious as the Ryder Cup logo that’s been slapped on everything around Gleneagles.
But sending out Cup rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed together is Watson being aggressive. With Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk available, Watson instead went for two young guys who haven’t shown an inclination to scare.
“I really wanted to see what they’ve got,” Watson said this afternoon. “I told them, ‘Guys, I’m throwing you in the ocean without a life preserver. You get out there and get it done.’ ”
The fact they will go against Ryder Cup superhero Ian Poulter and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher only adds to the potential Friday morning for the Americans. Theirs isn’t the featured match Friday morning – that goes to the Mickelson-Bradley showdown with Rory McIlroy and Sergio García ¬– but it could go a long way toward setting an early tone for the United States.
Watson said it is important to get the rookies out early and allow them to play their own ball for 18 holes rather than start them in the more challenging foursomes format. The U.S. captain said some of the morning pairings were set before the team arrived in Scotland but the Spieth-Reed pairing was not one of those.
Earlier, Reed was asked about his first memory of Tom Watson. Reed admitted it was Watson’s remarkable run in the 2009 British Open where he lost a playoff to Stewart Cink. Watson joked that it reminds him of how his grandchildren react when he tells them things.
“You look at Patrick Reed and when he gets it going he thinks he can beat the world. I like that attitude,” Watson said.
He proved it with his Friday four-ball pairings.