Is your head ready to explode from all the hype surrounding the Ryder Cup? Let me add something else for you to ponder as you await the first tee shot on Friday morning at Medinah Country Club.
The first matches on Friday will feature two-man teams playing Foursomes, also referred to as Alternate Shot. One player will hit the tee shot on the odd-numbered holes, and the other player will tee off on the even-numbered holes. The players then take turns hitting each shot until the ball is holed.
This game puts tremendous pressure on each competitor to accept the situation that their partner has placed them in and respond with a shot that will help their partner for the next shot. Historically, the USA Team has not performed well in Foursomes and normally digs a deep hole at the beginning of the Ryder Cup.
The team captains must consider personalities, fitting together compatible styles of play when choosing teams for Foursomes. The course layout can dictate the player that is chosen to hit the tee shot on the odd or even holes for the entire round. Foursomes is the least played and the most difficult session for the players.
European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal has an experienced team and his choices for the Friday Foursome matches are easier to predict. Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia should be the first group out. What could be better than Chicago resident and Northwestern alumnus Luke Donald hitting the first shot in the Ryder Cup?
Ian Poulter and Justin Rose have been a formidable team for the Europeans for several Ryder Cups. They are longtime friends and play very well together. We will see them paired together again at this Ryder Cup.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are also close friends and will likely be paired for the Foursomes and Four Ball matches on both Friday and Saturday.
The fourth team for Friday’s Foursomes is slightly more difficult to predict.
Captain Olazabal could go in several different directions. He may decide to put Lee Westwood and Peter Hanson together for his final Foursome team.
Peter Hanson has had an outstanding year, performing very well in the big events. Lee Westwood is ranked No. 4 on the Official World Golf Rankings and is one of the most consistent golfers in the world. He needs to be in the first session, and Hanson would be a good partner.
Francesco Molinari, Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts, Martin Kaymer and Paul Lawrie would be forced to sit out the first session for the Euros.
Captain Davis Love has four Ryder Cup rookies on the USA Team, but he does have some predictable teams.
Although Steve Stricker had another great year on the PGA Tour, he did not earn enough points to automatically qualify for the team. Love wasted no time in using one of his Captain’s Picks to choose him for the USA Team.
Stricker and Tiger Woods have been a very successful pairing in the last few President and Ryder Cups and could be the first pairing out for the USA Team.
Phil Mickelson is making his record-setting ninth appearance on a Ryder Cup team. He has been mentoring Keegan Bradley, and they have been playing practice rounds together at Medinah. They are comfortable with each other’s game and should be a very good team.
Jason Dufner has been one of the top players on the PGA Tour all year. He is unflappable and has a killer’s mentality. He needs to be playing as much as possible. Wouldn’t it be great to see the “$10 Million Man” Brandt Snedeker paired with Dufner in Friday Foursomes?
Snedeker and Dufner will be key players for the USA Team throughout the Ryder Cup. They need to get their feet wet and become acclimated to Ryder Cup pressure.
Matt Kuchar has to be involved in the first Foursome sessions on Friday. He could pair with several of the remaining USA Team members. Zach Johnson is a steady veteran that could bring a calm hand and experience that would fit well with Kuchar.
The players that would be forced to sit out under this scenario would be Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Jim Furyk
It may be difficult for Davis Love to leave Ryder Cup veteran Jim Furyk out of the first session, but he would make a strong Four Ball partner for Dustin Johnson in the afternoon session on Friday.
Can you imagine the energy that Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson would bring as a Four Ball team? Both bring youth and enthusiasm to the game. If they can get off to a good start in their early holes, Medinah would be electric, and they would take the Ryder Cup into the stratosphere.
Whatever the pairings, the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah will be exciting.
We wait two years for every Ryder Cup competition and enjoy watching the players react to the pressure of performing for their team and country.