Surprises not likely in U.S. pairings
Captain Tom Watson says pairings aren't 'rocket science'
September 23, 2014
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- September 23, 2014
- Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson are 3-0 when paired together at the Ryder Cup. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- The partnerships haven't officially been announced, but the U.S. seems to be making little secret about their lineup for Friday's first day of matches at the Ryder Cup.
Unless something dramatic changes in the mind of U.S. Captain Tom Watson in the next two practice days -- or unless it's a huge red herring to throw off the Europeans -- it appears Ryder Cup rookie Jordan Spieth will be paired with Matt Kuchar, while another rookie, Patrick Reed, will partner with veteran Jim Furyk.
The third rookie, Jimmy Walker, looks to be playing with Rickie Fowler.
That leaves three other pairings, each having previously played together in a Ryder Cup: Webb Simpson-Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson-Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson-Keegan Bradley.
Watson did not confirm the pairings on Tuesday during his daily briefing, but he did say, "It's not rocket science. I think there are certain players who I think meld very well with each other, and those are the pairings we'll probably start with."
Watson sent his players out in three different foursomes for Tuesday's first practice round. Spieth was in that first group with Kuchar. Simpson and Watson filled out the foursome.
"He plays very, very boring golf," the 21-year-old Spieth said of Kuchar, "and that's a lot of fun to be around when you have an opportunity to make birdie on every single hole."
Kuchar said a pairing with Spieth could be interesting, particularly in Foursomes.
"The one thing you try to work out with a partner is in the alternate shot -- who should break it up, odds and evens; who should putt more; who should hit more approaches; who should hit more drives," Kuchar said. "We have a similar game, so it will be interesting if we play alternate-shot to try to figure that part out."
A year ago at The Presidents Cup, Spieth was paired with Steve Stricker, winning two of three matches. Stricker is now one of Watson's vice captains, and Kuchar plans to pick his brain in regards to Spieth.
"I know they paired up at Presidents Cup last year and made a great team," Kuchar said.
In Tuesday's second practice group, Furyk and Reed were together, with Johnson and Mahan as the other twosome. Furyk and Reed haven't been paired in team competitions, but they were in the same pairing at The Barclays in 2013, and were also paired at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational two months ago.
Furyk said he was particularly impressed how Reed handled his poor play at The Barclays -- 73-75 to miss the cut.
"He didn't play very well for two days and it was pretty apparent by about the turn on Friday that he was going to miss the cut," Furyk recalled. "I still felt like he was a pretty easy guy to play with. He was a gentleman and handled himself professionally. I enjoyed that."
Furyk, however, knows that he's one of those players who can fill in the slot of any pairing. Reminded that he's had 14 different partners in his eight previous Ryder Cups, Furyk called himself "the utility infielder that leads off. ... I just think my temperament, being a veteran in these (events) allows me to kind of move around and be a bit of a chameleon."
Fowler and Walker were in the third practice group with Mickelson and Bradley. Although none of those four players met the media on Tuesday, it's doubtful Watson would break up the Mickelson-Bradley combo, which won all three of its matches two years ago at Medinah.
Fowler was not on the Ryder Cup team two years ago but he did play with Mickelson in 2010 at Celtic Manor, with the duo losing a Four-ball match to Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer. Fowler also partnered with Furyk to halve a Foursomes match against Kaymer and Lee Westwood.
The pairings for Friday's first session of four Four-ball matches will not be announced until late Thursday afternoon, but Watson's focus may be more on possible changes after that if necessary.
"The pairings evolve throughout the matches," he said. "The body language, the play -- everything is involved with you picking who is going to be playing with whom after the first pairings."
Players Prior Ryder Cup together Record Keegan Bradley-Phil Mickelson 2012 3-0 Webb Simpson-Bubba Watson 2012 2-1 Zach Johnson-Hunter Mahan 2010 1-1