Fourballs – how they measure up
Goldf365’s match-by-match analysis of Friday’s opening round of fourballs at the Ryder Cup:
Golf365’s match-by-match analysis of Friday’s opening round of Ryder Cup fourballs at Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten course.
LEE WESTWOOD and MARTIN KAYMER v PHIL MICKELSON and DUSTIN JOHNSON
Starts at 07.45 BST
Europe’s two highest-ranked players – Westwood is third in the world and Kaymer sixth – have been paired together in the opening game.
Westwood, winning his seventh cap, has not played competitively since August 6 because of a torn calf. Uncapped Kaymer, only the second German to represent Europe, has won his last two tournaments, including the US PGA Championship.
Mickelson, going out first just as he did two years ago (in Tiger Woods’ absence, of course), 2004 (with Woods), 1999 and 1997, equals the American record with his eighth cap.
Johnson, who broke the head of his driver in Thursday’s practice, is his 12th partner. The big-hitting debutant could have won the US Open and USPGA this year, but shot a closing 81 at Pebble Beach and incurred a two-shot penalty on the last hole at Whistling Straits.
Westwood and Mickelson have clashed four times, with Westwood edging it with two wins, one half and one loss.
GRAEME McDOWELL and RORY McILROY v STEWART CINK and MATT KUCHAR
Starts at 08.00 BST
Not out first, as most would have predicted, but still together – US Open champion McDowell on the course where he won the Wales Open in June and 21-year-old fellow Northern Irishman McIlroy.
They won three out of four together for Great Britain and Ireland last year, all at the top of the order, and now McIlroy becomes the youngest player in the match since 19-year-old Sergio Garcia in 1999.
Cink, last year’s Open champion, is a wild card pick for the third time in four matches. Kuchar is one of five debutants.
IAN POULTER and ROSS FISHER v STEVE STRICKER and TIGER WOODS
Starts at 08.15 BST
Poulter and the uncapped Fisher hold golf’s two World Match Play titles between them and were partners at the World Cup last November.
Two years ago Poulter top-scored with four points out of five, three of them with Justin Rose alongside him.
Stricker becomes the 12th partner for Woods. They won four points of four at the Presidents Cup and are currently ranked first and fourth in the world.
Woods played the first shot of the match on his last appearance four years ago – but hooked it into water. At least there is no lake to find this time.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON and LUKE DONALD v BUBBA WATSON and JEFF OVERTON
Starts at 8.00 BST
Harrington has not won any of his last nine games, but having been given a wild card ahead of Paul Casey and Justin Rose the three-time major winner was always likely to start.
The same goes for Donald after his second place in America last weekend – even though he was omitted from three out of four fourball sessions in his Ryder Cup two matches.
Big-hitting Watson and Overton, who qualified despite not winning a tournament, are both cup rookies. Watson, left-handed like Mickelson, is the player who lost a play-off to Martin Kaymer at the US PGA Championship last month.
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