Friday morning Ryder Cup pairings

September 19, 2008 | Drew Forrester

The pairings are out and now it’s up to the players to play.

Friday morning at 8am, the 37th Ryder Cup matches will begin at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY.
And for the first time in, well, maybe forever, the United States team is a legitimate underdog in this year’s competition with the European side.

The U.S. has won just once since 1993 and even then, in 1999, it took a combination of puzzling Captain’s work by Europe’s Mark James and a final day miracle finish by the U.S. squad to win a thriller at Brookline CC in suburban Boston.

To say the Europeans have been dominating in the last six Ryder Cups (winning five…three of them easily) would be like saying Tiger Woods has been “pretty good” on the PGA Tour since 1996.

This week in Louisville, the U.S. fields a team of six rookies and six veterans, but Friday’s pairings will feature three of those rookies in the morning alternate-shot competition.

The pairings, announced this afternoon, are as follows:

Match 1 —

U.S. – Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson vs. Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson

Match 2 —

U.S. – Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan vs. Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey

Match 3 —

U.S. – Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell vs. Justin Rose and Ian Poulter

Match 4 —

U.S. – Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry vs. Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood

The afternoon “better-ball” pairings will be announced in mid-morning tomorrow and U.S. captain Paul Azinger has indicated the four players sitting out on Friday morning (Ben Curtis, Steve Stricker, J.B. Holmes and Boo Weekley) will all see action in the afternoon. That means four Americans playing on Friday morning will have to sit out Friday afternoon.

I’m glad Azinger’s the captain. Making that decision is going to be tough.

I don’t see any real advantage in the Friday morning pairings.

If the U.S. can get 1.5 or 2 points out of the 4 that are offered, that would be a great start for Azinger’s team.

Prediction: Europe 2.5 – U.S. 1.5