Norman mixes his pairings
Internationals captain Greg Norman will look to his “steady Eddies” to right the ship at the Presidents Cup today.
Internationals captain Greg Norman will look to his “steady Eddies” to right the ship and help his team shrug away their narrow, first-day deficit and better the United States when the day two fourballs matches get under way at the Presidents Cup in San Francisco today.
The USA, captained by Fred Couples, lead Norman’s side 3½ to 2½ after the opening six foursomes matches at Harding Park on Thursday with pairings of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim and Zach Johnson and Kenny Perry all gaining victories for the home side.
Norman’s winning duos were Ernie Els and Adam Scott and Vijay Singh and Robert Allenby.
Retief Goosen and YE Yang earned a late half point in their 18-hole battle with Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard after Leonard missed short putts at both the 17th and 18th holes that would have made the first-day score 4-2 to the Americans.
Moving from alternate shot play to the better ball, fourball format today, Norman has mixed up all his pairings.
Couples has retained the Woods-Stricker partnership following their six and four rout of Geoff Ogilvy and Ryo Ishikawa, and also his reigning major champions Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover, even though they lost to Singh and Allenby last night.
“I felt, with the fourball, it’s the guys playing their game,” Norman explained. “I think we have a balance there where, if you look at my team, you’ve got Mike Weir and you’ve got a Tim Clark who are steady Eddies, (who) put it on the fairway.
“The golf course lends itself to this. And then you have the other guys who can get out there and just pound it down there and take advantage of it.
“At the end of the day, I talked to all my guys, we brought them into a room privately and we talked to them and there wasn’t one bit of a push back on any of the pairings.”
South African Goosen and captain’s pick Scott will kick the International bid off against Mickelson and Leonard, followed by Els and Weir against Furyk and Kim, while Japanese teenager Ishikawa will partner US PGA champion Yang against Perry and Sean O’Hair.
Singh, who like Mickelson has played in all eight Presidents Cups, will team up with South Africa’s Clark against Cink and Glover, while Allenby and Camilo Villegas will go up against Johnson and Hunter Mahan with Angel Cabrera and Ogilvy finishing against Woods and Stricker.
Couples claimed he was perfectly happy to accept his players’ own requests for playing partners.
“I’m not ever going to say it’s easier pairing styles, but Greg has a bunch of new guys and he’s got bombers and straight ball hitters,” the USA captain said.
“I have the same thing, but these guys are coming up to me and saying, ‘Hey at the Presidents Cup in Canada’ – which was two years ago -‘I played with Kenny Perry and we played really, really well’.
“That’s really all I need to hear and that’s basically what I went by.
“So Steve Stricker and Tiger want to play together. I really did not want to move Zach Johnson and Kenny Perry, because you’ve got a long hitter and another one, a straight and consistent player.
“But they wanted to change. So this is a fun event, I don’t want six guys to play together every round – and they all look great.
“Greg could make my pairings and think he’s doing a horrible job and I can take his and think I’m doing a horrible job – they are still six great teams. It’s not that difficult.”
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