Ryder Cup 2012 Captains: Decisions Davis Love III Must Get Right for US Victory

Derek Piper@@FeelDaPaignCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  USA team captain Davis Love III (R) greets his assistants Scott Verplank (C) and Jeff Sluman (L) on the first tee during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

US captain Davis Love III has some big decisions to make if he wants to put an end to Europe's dominance in the Ryder Cup.

In 2010, the Europeans defeated the US by one point, capturing their sixth cup of the last eight matchups.

This year, the Americans hope that a talented roster including Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods and others will be enough to turn the tide. While it is up to these golfers to put out their best performance, it is Love's job to give them favorable pairings in match play.

Here are crucial decisions that Love must get right.

Who is going to stop McIlroy-McDowell?

There is no hiding the fact that Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are Europe's team-to-beat in match play this year.

McIlroy, the world No. 1, has played lights-out recently, aside from a disappointing plus-four in the final round of the TOUR Championship last weekend.

McIlroy and McDowell teamed up in the 2010 Ryder Cup, winning 1.5 points out of three for the Europeans.

Love threw what he thought to be his best foursome pair at them in Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker—both coming off impressive performances at the TOUR Championship. However, it was not enough as Europe's lethal combo won by one stroke.

Love will need to continue to look for answers to prevent McIlroy and McDowell from racking up points the next two days. The US pair of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley may be just what Love is looking for—as they are slotted to take on McIlroy-McDowell in four-ball this afternoon.

Mickelson and Bradley played extremely well in the morning foursome, defeating Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia 4&3.

How good is the Woods-Stricker combo?

With 86 PGA Tour wins between the two, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are one of the more high-profile pairs in this year's cup.

The duo won two out of three points for the US in the 2010 Ryder Cup, and are looking to continue their success together.

However, Woods and Stricker were dominated in their Friday morning match play, losing 2&1 to Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

The two US golfers are coming off disappointing finishes last weekend at the TOUR Championship. Woods, who was tied for first place after the first round, finished two-under after a 72 in the final round.

Stricker also had a promising first round, trailing Woods by only one stroke, but fell off soon after, finishing with three straight plus-three performances—finishing the tournament at plus-six.

Woods and Stricker will try to redeem themselves in a crucial four-ball match against Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts this afternoon. Love will need this pair to shape up fast as he will see where he can slot them on Saturday.

Singles Pairings

In what may be the most important decision of the weekend, Love will need to decide the order for singles play on Sunday.

Though he won't know Europe's order, Love will need to come up with a good strategy for the US to finish the tournament strong (i.e. saving his best for last).

European captain José María Olazábal will likely do the same, leaving McIlroy, Rose and Poulter at the bottom of the list.

Love will need to determine who are his best golfers heading into Sunday, as the order of play could very well determine who takes home the cup.

Neither captain will know where the other is going to slot his heavy-hitters, but finishing strong must be a top priority, as they will want their best golfers playing when the pressure is on down the home stretch.