Ryder Cup 2021: Predicting Most Intriguing Potential Pairings

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2021

Ryder Cup 2021: Predicting Most Intriguing Potential Pairings

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The golf world has been wrapped up in the Brooks Koepka-Bryson DeChambeau feud for the last year. 

    Starting on Friday, though, they will be teammates for three days on the United States' Ryder Cup team. 

    USA captain Steve Stricker may be inclined to keep DeChambeau and Koepka in different pairings on Friday and Saturday, but it is the one duo all of us want to see. 

    No one knows what exactly would come from a DeChambeau-Koepka group. It may turn into a superteam that wins a few matches, or it could go up in flames. 

    It is hard to predict what exactly Stricker will do with his pairings because he has six rookies on the roster. 

    Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington should have a better idea of which players he will pair together since he has only three Ryder Cup rookies in his squad. 

    We should expect experience to emanate from the European pairings, especially on Friday when the team looks to get off to a fast start at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin. 

Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    C'mon Steve Stricker. Just do it once for all of us and then we can stop talking about it. 

    DeChambeau and Koepka have not been paired at any of the season's majors, and Friday may be the perfect time for the partnership to happen. 

    The United States needs a spark to kick-start the competition on home soil, especially after losing the last Ryder Cup by seven points in 2018. 

    Stricker would be taking a risk by putting the long-driving DeChambeau with Koepka in a foursomes match on Friday morning, but it could pay dividends if the former is in good form.

    When DeChambeau won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in 2020, he simply outdrove all of the treacherous parts of the course. When he was not accurate, he hammered the ball out of the rough on to the green. 

    If that version of the 28-year-old shows up this weekend, Koepka should have an easier time with his approach shots and put the American duo in position to birdie a handful of holes. 

    At their best, DeChambeau and Koepka could help the Americans break their struggles in the foursomes, or alternate shot, format that has been won by Europe in nine of the last 13 Ryder Cups. 

    The potential pairing could also give DeChambeau some confidence at the Ryder Cup. He went 0-3 in his tournament debut in 2018, while Koepka is 4-3-1 in his two Ryder Cups. 

    If anything, a potential pairing of these major winners will attract more eyes. If it does not work on Friday, the U.S. skipper can conjure up something different while putting speculation about the feuding rivals playing together to rest. 

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The two greatest Spanish golfers of recent years could wreak havoc on the Americans all weekend. 

    Jon Rahm is the best player in the world right now, and he enters the Ryder Cup off one of the best seasons in recent memory. 

    The 26-year-old finished inside the top 10 at all four majors and won the 2021 U.S. Open. He won't be fazed by any moments that come up in the Ryder Cup. 

    Garcia, 41, is the second-most experienced player in the competition. He is making his 10th Ryder Cup appearance and owns a 22-12-7 record in the tournament. 

    The two Spaniards did not play together in France three years ago. Garcia twice partnered with Alexander Noren and once with Rory McIlroy, while Rahm competed alongside Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. 

    Pairing a golfer with winning experience at the event and the No. 1 player in the world could reap plenty of rewards for Team Europe captain Harrington. 

    If they play well together on Friday, Rahm and Garcia could be called upon to collect even more points on Saturday. 

Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele have been two of the most consistent American players at major tournaments over the last two years. 

    Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 British Open, and he has placed inside the top 10 at two other majors this year. Schauffele, meanwhile, won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and has nine top-10 finishes at major tournaments. 

    Despite being Ryder Cup rookies, the two should play like wily veterans based off their major championship form. If the Americans want to find consistency on Friday and Saturday, this could be the pairing that brings home a few points. 

    Additionally, Morikawa and Schauffele could be vital to the United States' success during singles play on Sunday if their form in majors is on display at Whistling Straits.