Ryder Cup 2012 Pairings: Highlighting the Best Afternoon Foursomes

Mike Shiekman@TheRealShiekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson of the USA walk to 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Choosing a Ryder Cup pairing can be a delicate science.

In the 2012 Ryder Cup, though, Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal stuck to the script. There weren't many surprises among the pairings: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were a match, while Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were an obvious pair selection.

After a 2-2 split in the opening foursomes, the afternoon four-ball pairings brought out the hottest twosomes in the tournament.

Four foursomes will hit an afternoon round at Medinah Country Club. Points are up for grabs. Let's look at the most interesting battles.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (Europe) vs. Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson (USA)

Two heavyweight pairs match up against each other in the second tee time. Both made handy work of their opponents in the morning round.

The leading storyline from this morning's round was Mickelson and Bradley's domination. Let's just say they weren't the top pick to have the most impressive round from the U.S. team.

Bradley, though, has been an emotional spark plug and a great putter in his first appearance. Mickelson may have found the Ryder Cup partner that has eluded him in recent tournaments.

McIlroy and McDowell are proven European players carrying the torch for a young Europe. The Irishmen love playing together and they bring results on the course.

Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts (Europe) vs. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker (USA)

There was chatter on the ESPN Ryder Cup telecast that Woods might sit the afternoon round, but captain Davis Love III went with the polarizing pair.

They have fared admirably in match play all-time, but if Tiger is off his game as in the opening foursomes, Stricker will have to play otherworldly to keep them in the hunt.

As if Woods and Stricker aren't good enough entertainment, they are matched up with Westwood and Colsaerts, a pairing of veteran and rookie. Westwood has won 16 times, more than any other European on the team.

Think he knows how to win on this level?

That's why pairing the rookie Colsaerts with the veteran Brit could bring some magic on the European side. Westwood can guide the power-hitting first-timer as he goes up against Tiger Woods' team.

Should be a dogfight to the finish.