Ryder Cup captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal took to the stage at the event’s Opening Ceremonies to announce their pairings for Friday morning’s matches at Medinah Country Club.
The format for the opening matches is foursomes, more commonly known as alternate shot.
Let’s take a look at who will face off.
First matchup: McIlroy/McDowell vs. Furyk/Snedeker
It’s no surprise that Olazabal chose to put Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, the two close friends and fellow countrymen together, but putting them off first sends the message that they want the early lead. This match will go a long way in setting the tone because if the U.S. can take even a half point from this match it will give their whole team a big boost.
Pairing the veteran Jim Furyk with the rookie Brandt Snedeker is a good call for captain Love, as Furyk’s calmness should help Snedeker stay relaxed and focused on the task at hand. A tall task it is though.
Second matchup: Donald/Garcia vs. Mickelson/Bradley
Phil Mickelson has taken Keegan Bradley under his wing since he joined the Tour last season, so this looks to be a very comfortable pairing for the Americans. They both hit the ball long and have similar personalities, making what should be a good duo.
For the Europeans, both players play a different type of game but are very good ball strikers, two of the best in the world. With Luke Donald’s steady play and Sergio Garcia’s fiery demeanor, this pairing could heat up if Garcia can sink some putts.
Third matchup: Westwood/Molinari vs. Dufner/Johnson
Aside from Lee Westwood, these guys are all relatively low key and prefer to fly under the radar, letting their game do the talking. Americans Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson will be in the fairway all day and can really putt well. Westwood and Francesco Molinari will rely on their advantage in length off the tee and when on, are both extremely good ball strikers.
Fourth matchup: Poulter/Rose vs. Stricker/Woods
This matchup stands out as the best of the morning. Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods have fared well in team events together before, and compliment each other nicely. Stricker’s laid-back attitude and consistent game will mesh with Woods’ length and flare for the dramatic.
Justin Rose comes into Medinah playing well and is a good player to be paired with; everything he does is above average and he’ll rarely flat out lose a hole for you. Ian Poulter lives for the Ryder cup and you just know he’s chomping at the bit to get out there. He plays a solid all around game as well and can really get streaky with the putter.
Making this match even more dramatic is the fact that Woods and Poulter haven’t always gotten along so well and with the intensity and passion of the Ryder Cup, especially from these two, this could be one of the best matches of the entire event.
Unfortunately for four members of each squad, they will have to sit out at least the first session. Those four guys on each team are:
Team Europe – Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer and Paul Lawrie
Team USA – Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson
Pairings for the afternoon’s four-ball matches will be announced Friday morning. The first group will tee off at 8:20 a.m. ET.