JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY | One of the best parts of the Presidents Cup is watching the two team captains and their assistants set the pairings for the matches. Unlike the Ryder Cup where each side determines who will play and when without knowing what the other will do, at the Presidents Cup one side puts up a team then the other counters.
It looked for a time like a fantasy draft Wednesday afternoon as the four vice captains gathered around their respective captains – Nick Price and Steve Stricker – to plot the course for Thursday’s opening foursomes session at Liberty National Golf Club.
Here’s a look at the pairings, which did not produce many surprises but offers the potential for some dynamic matches.
Just to make the day feel a little more special, former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama will be on the first tee for the fun.
1:05 p.m. Rickie Fowler-Justin Thomas (U.S.) vs. Hideki Matsuyama-Charl Schwartzel (Int.)
Thomas is the best player in the game at the moment and gets to play with one of his best buddies. If Matsuyama had shown better recent form, Price probably would feel better about his team’s chances in the first match.
1:17 p.m. Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar (U.S.) vs. Adam Scott-Jhonattan Vegas (Int.)
Price said he wanted to put Scott – an eight-time Presidents Cup player – with one of his four rookies, and he found a pairing that he thinks clicks between Scott and Vegas. Johnson and Kuchar won’t give the International side many openings.
1:29 p.m. Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed (U.S.) vs. Si Woo Kim-Emiliano Grillo (Int.)
Looking for a blowout? This looks like the one. Boy, does this look like the one.
1:41 p.m. Brooks Koepka-Daniel Berger (U.S.) vs. Louis Oosthuizen-Branden Grace (Int.)
When Price said there could be “some doozies” among the first-day matches, this is one he was talking about. Oosthuizen and Grace have been brilliant together in the Presidents Cup but the American pairing of former Florida State Seminoles is imposing. This could be the match of the first day.
1:53 p.m. Kevin Kisner-Phil Mickelson (U.S.) vs. Jason Day-Marc Leishman (Int.)
The two Aussies together were an easy pairing for Price while Stricker found Mickelson his “bulldog” in Kisner. “Phil likes fiery players and Kisner is one of those players,” Stricker said. “He talks a lot of smack when we’re out there playing. Phil gravitates to that.”