With the Ryder Cup commencing in less than 48 hours, anticipation is climbing and palms are starting to sweat. Davis Love III and Darren Clarke will reveal their pairings late Thursday afternoon, but Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practice round at Hazeltine may have given us an early look at what we can expect from the U.S. side.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the practice-round groups remained nearly the same, with only Brooks Koepka and Zach Johnson switching places.
Tuesday Practice Groups:
GROUP 1: Spieth, Reed, Kuchar, D. Johnson
GROUP 2: Holmes, Moore, Snedeker, Koepka
GROUP 3: Fowler, Walker, Mickelson, Z. Johnson
Wednesday Practice Groups:
GROUP 1: Fowler, Walker, Mickelson, Koepka
GROUP 2: Spieth, Reed, Kuchar, D. Johnson
GROUP 3: Holmes, Moore, Snedeker, Z. Johnson
With foursomes (alternate shot) and four-ball (better ball) on the docket the first two days, here is what the initial U.S. pairings may look like:
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed
Given their 2-0-1 record together in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, this one seems as likely as any. While Spieth is known for rolling the rock — he was second in strokes gained putting this past season — Reed is also a talented short-game player and was ranked eighth in scrambling. Hazeltine has three par-5s over 600 yards and will likely come down to wedge play and short game.
Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker
Fowler is criticized widely for his poor Ryder Cup record, but he and Jimmy Walker put up several impressive halves in 2014 during the first three sessions. The two will be World Cup of Golf partners later this year and compliment each other well with ball-striking; Fowler was eighth in strokes gained off the tee this season and Walker was 15th in strokes gained on his approach to the green.
Brooks Koepka and J.B. Holmes
This one just seems scary, doesn’t it? The two bombers can attack the nearly 7,700 yards that Hazeltine National offers with their powerful swings. Love has said that he wants fireworks during the matches, and Koepka (sixth in birdie average this season) and Holmes (eighth in birdie average this season) can light up the scoreboard.
Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar
If there is one thing that Dustin Johnson needs out of a partner, it’s someone who can putt. We know DJ can crush it (second in strokes gained off the tee and second in driving distance this season), but Kuchar’s reliable putting and steady overall play gives this pairing the teeth to do damage.
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson
The veterans have combined to play 50 Ryder Cup matches in their careers and are lethal with wedges in their hands. Remember that they went 2-0-1 together in last year’s President Cup while having to battle Jason Day twice. There is a reliability in this partnership that makes sense.
Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker
Moore and Snedeker have a long history together, dating back to their amateur careers. Moore is the hot hand who earned the final Ryder Cup spot due to his nice play down the stretch and epic playoff showdown with Rory in Atlanta, but Snedeker’s ability to putt (11th in total putting) and his positive experience from 2012 with the very Moore-like Jim Furyk makes this a potentially great duo.