CHASKA, MINNESOTA – And now it’s time for the golf.
American captain Davis Love III and European captain Darren Clarke set the pairings for the opening session of the Ryder Cup Friday morning and while there were no great surprises, the foursomes action could set the tone for how the weekend unfolds.
“Every time I looked at this lineup, I just got more and more excited about all four matches,” Love said. “Obviously not knowing who they were going to put out, but guessing a little bit. Again, that first match is going to be exciting.”
Here’s the way it looks:
- Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed vs. Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose:
This probably won’t be the only time these four guys find themselves sharing a tee time this weekend. This is power against power with Love and Clarke throwing their big guys out immediately.
The Americans are counting on Spieth and Reed to deliver what they did at Gleneagles where they were the lone bright spot.
“Our most fired-up guy (Reed) is going to be in front of the most fired-up crowd maybe in the history of golf,” Love said.
On the other hand, Stenson and Rose were 3-0 together at Gleneagles.
Who wins: Give the first match to the Americans to make the task force feel good.
- Phil Mickelson-Rickie Fowler vs. Rory McIlroy-Andy Sullivan:
So much for the thought that Mickelson might sit out the foursomes section because of his inconsistency off the tee. He’s at the heart of this U.S. team and there’s a super-rich dose of charisma in this American pairing. But are they playing well enough?
McIlroy has his bounce back after winning twice in his last three starts, including his dramatic Tour Championship win on Sunday. He can help ease Sullivan into his first Ryder Cup.
Who wins: Rory roars for Europe.
- Jimmy Walker-Zach Johnson vs. Sergio Garcia-Martin Kaymer:
If Walker plays as he did at the PGA Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship, that will be big for the Americans. Johnson has had a quiet summer but he’s perfect for foursomes play because he’s so steady.
However, there’s a reason Garcia is 18-9-5 in the Ryder Cup. Like Colin Montgomerie before him, Garcia seems to putt to a bigger hole in this event. Kaymer has quietly found some form in the latter part of the season, too.
Who wins: Sergio is the difference in this one for Europe.
- Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar vs. Lee Westwood-Thomas Pieters:
This is another American pairing that probably won’t get broken up all weekend. Johnson has been the player of the year and Kuchar is an ideal complement, his steadiness underpinning DJ’s explosiveness.
Westwood has enormous experience and Pieters is an underrated talent but they find themselves in an unenviable spot. Interestingly, Clarke sent out all three of his captain’s picks in the morning matches.
Who wins: The Americans make it a 2-2 session.
And here’s something else to consider:
The U.S. has Brandt Snedeker, J.B. Holmes, Ryan Moore and Brooks Koepka waiting for their chances while the Europeans have Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood.