Medinah CC, Chicago, IL—It’s official: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are all playing in the morning foursomes (alternate shot) format Thursday morning at Medinah CC. The announcements were made by the team captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal, at the end of the opening ceremonies.
Rory McIlroy goes out with Graeme McDowell in what was the worst-kept secret in pairings. They will face Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley will follow in the second match against Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.
In the third, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner will face Francesco Molinari of Italy and Lee Westwood of England. Of the group, Dufner is the rookie.
In the clean-up position, it is Tiger Woods with, as expected, Steve Stricker. They will face Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
US Captain Davis Love III said it “wasn’t who to send out. It was who to sit down.” He said they all wanted to play.
“I have four of the best players in the world sitting on the bench,” Love added. “I have got to get them in the game.” Sitting in the morning session will be Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar.
Jose Maria Olazabal said, “I wanted my strongest foursome pairings tomorrow.” He is sitting Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie and Martin Kaymer.
In terms of his style of being captain, Olazabal said he would be close “so that they know I’m there if they need me.”
He said his pairings were not hiding anything. “We want to win points, period. We have to go for it.”
Love said his order was based partly on pace of play with Snedeker being a fast player and Bradley being a fast player. They each have a veteran to lean on. Also, with the initial group of Furyk and Snedeker, he was looking for someone who could stand up to the pressure of being the first match on the first tee.
Speculation is that Mickelson, Woods, Stricker and Furyk will not play all five matches, but Ryder Cups are all about surprises.
While it’s interesting to guess who could win in the morning, it may be more significant to consider what happens if certain pairings are not point-getters.
If McIlroy and McDowell don’t win, what does Olazabal do? If Westwood and Molinari don’t win, then where does Olazabal go for straight hitters in foursomes? If Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker aren’t successful in their match, will that spell the end of their duo?
We cannot wait to find out.