Ryder Cup Pairings 2012: Projecting Most Ideal Pairs and Matchups

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor ISeptember 27, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 26:  Rory McIlroy (L) and Graeme McDowell of Europe look over a green during the third preview day of The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 26, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

One of the most crucial aspects of the Ryder Cup is determining pairings.

What two golfers will work best together? Should you put your top players all together or spread them out? How do you mix veterans and rookies?

Creating the right duos could be the key difference in taking home the title at Medinah this year, and with so few certainties, captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal don't have an enviable job. 

Let's take a look at whom they might go with for Friday's opening matches. 


Team USA

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker

This is the "duh" choice from the American side. 

Woods and Stricker have been dominating "four-ball" and "foresome" play since the 2009 Presidents Cup when the talented duo joined forces and went an impressive 4-0 to help lead the United States to a huge victory.

They followed that up with an impressive 2010 Ryder Cup together, winning "four-ball" and "foresome" before finally dropping a match to Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

It's a little disconcerting that the 2011 Presidents Cup saw Woods pair more with Dustin Johnson after losing his first match with Stricker, but it's hard to argue with their 6-2 record. Love would be crazy to pair these guys up with anyone else. 


Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson

Both of their first names have a "double B" and both of their last names end in "son." It's hard to have a pairing more "meant to be" than this one.

Oh, and there's also the fact that this same duo matched up at the 2011 Presidents Cup and thoroughly dominated en route to a 3-1 record.


Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk

The final six Americans aren't quite as easy to peg.

Whatever decision Love makes, finding the right partner for Lefty is going to be crucial. Not only has the normally dominant veteran had a down season, but his 2010 Ryder Cup was also a nightmare. 

Mickelson paired with Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler but went 0-3 before finally grabbing a point in his singles match. 

Look for Love to stick the veterans together and go back to the 2011 Presidents Cup duo that went 3-0. 


Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar

If you think it seems like Dustin Johnson has been a part of some bad pairings over the last couple of years, you would be right.

Johnson has really struggled with Woods and Mickelson, but he was able to claim a half-point when he matched up with Kuchar last year at the Presidents Cup. 

This is a good mix of power and accuracy, which bodes well for match-play. 


Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner

Together they have just one Ryder Cup appearance, but both have won twice on the PGA Tour this season and would serve as quite the underrated combo.


Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker

That leaves two Ryder Cup rookies. 

It might not be ideal, but Bradley is a rising star while Snedeker is coming off a huge win at the Tour Championship. Not bad for a "scraps" pairing. 


Team Europe

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

And here we start with the "duh" option from Europe's side. 

McIlroy and McDowell are buddies. They're both from Northern Ireland, they've ridden on a jet together and they paired up at the 2010 Ryder Cup, albeit with mixed results (1-1-1). 

It would be shocking if these friends weren't on the same tee together. 


Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia

Fun fact: Luke Donald has participated in the 2004, 2006 and 2010 Ryder Cups. Europe has won every one. He also missed the 2008 tournament, which the United States won.

Coincidence? Probably. 

Donald has played with a lot of different partners during his match-play career, but none were better than Sergio Garcia. The duo beat some very big names in the 2006 Ryder Cup (Woods, Furyk, Mickelson) and holds a sparkling 4-0 record as a team.

Seems simple enough. 


Ian Poulter and Justin Rose

Poulter managed to go 2-1 in match-play at the 2010 Ryder Cup, but the lack of a constant partner (he never played with the same teammate) was less than ideal.

The only reason he didn't have a constant partner, of course, was the absence of Justin Rose, who played three times with Poulter during the 2008 Ryder Cup.

Rose and Poulter went 2-1 that year, so getting back to that would be smart for Olazabal. 


Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood

I have a full-on man crush for this combo.

Colsaerts, the rookie, has more driving power than anyone in the world, and yes, that includes Bubba Watson. Westwood, the veteran, is insanely accurate on approaches from anywhere under 200 yards.

These guys fit together like jelly and jelly. 


Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari

Call it Olazabal's "throwaway" pairing.

Kaymer and Molinari are certainly talented, but neither is having a very good season.


Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson

It will only be the second Ryder Cup appearance for both golfers, but they are still solid veterans who won't be rattled in any situation.

Hanson is quietly having a very good season, and as a result might have to carry the 43-year-old Lawrie, who hasn't done much this year. 



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