RYDER CUP: Likely American match-upsSeptember, 2012
Who we think will and won't play together at Medinah
Partners: Stricker, all day long. Failing that, Furyk. Unless there is an unlikely friendship with one of the rookies (laid-back Dufner?) that’s about it.
Won’t play with: Phil, but then you knew that. Received wisdom is that TW doesn’t like getting too close to those he views as genuine rivals. That’s you, Dustin. But maybe not you, Zach.
Partners: Quietly won three out of three with Furyk at Presidents Cup. Maybe that’s why Jim got the nod – it certainly wasn’t because of his past RC record. Also big buddies with Bradley.
Won’t play with: Tiger, obviously. And, by extension, Stricker for that matter. Or Bubba, two lefties would just be too weird.
Partners: An Ernie Wise straight man in fourballs, like Kuchar or the other Johnson. Has a point to prove as his team record is surprisingly bad to date.
Won’t play with: Mickelson or Woods, they tried that at Celtic Manor and Royal Melbourne and it wasn’t happening. Pity, as really could have been spectacular. But it wasn’t.
Partners: Last time was with Stewart Cink so maybe Stricker? Had three partners at Presidents Cup so either very versatile or fairly offensive. Probably the former. Whatever happened to Cink?
Won’t play with: Tiger or Phil but for no particular reason other than it just wouldn’t look right – though he is better at table tennis, apparently.
Partners: Good question. Didn’t play in Presidents Cup and teamed up with Hunter Mahan in Wales. Likely to get a run out in the opening foursomes. Great putter but no bomber.
Won’t play with: Tiger – they don’t share a taste in films, we learned at the K Club in 2006. And their lives are completely different.
Partners: Webb Simpson – the devout duo were inseparable at the Presidents Cup last year. That will please captain Love as, despite his seemingly affable demeanour, Bubba is not necessarily the easiest to buddy up with.
Won’t play with: Dustin at foursomes, not sure they’d remember what order to play in.
Jim Furyk is probably too deliberate (and tediously slow) for the more instinctive Snedeker.
Partners: So laid back he makes The Fonz look agitated. The word is he gets on well with Tiger. He won’t be short of suitors because he has barely had a bad week and lots will be keen on pairing up with a guy who isn’t going to hit it sideways. Or give you ‘that look’ when you hit a loose one.
Won’t play with: Bradley – he broke his heart at the PGA last year.
Partners: Has to be Tiger on the first day and maybe for all four sessions if it goes well. Think of Stricker as a special teams expert, in American Football lingo. He has been picked to play with Tiger, having succeeded where many others have tried and failed.
Won’t play with: Don’t be silly – he’s one of the good guys.
Partners: See Bubba Watson. Webb is calm, Bubba is anything but. It worked in Australia at the Presidents Cup, when they went out in the top match three times and won the whole lot.
Won’t play with: No obvious conflicts so could be a guy who has a few different partners – America’s equivalent of Molinari, Lawrie or Hanson.
Partners: He and Phil have been practice-round buddies for over a year and Lefty has mentored Bradley in his early PGA Tour career. The calm experience of Zach Johnson would be a logical complement to his excitability.
Won’t play with: Bubba, would just be too much. Imagine those two and Rory and GMac slugging it out..kerpow!
Partners: Possibly Phil to start with but it won’t necessarily last as captain Love might want these veterans to help some rookies along. If opposites attract then Bubba is your man – but that would be a pairing out of left field.
Won’t play with: Stricker, that would be too weird and upset Phil and Tiger simultaneously.
Partners: He has never played in the Ryder or Presidents Cups, so is an unknown quantity. Is an easy-going, very likeable, laid-back individual who putts like Loren Roberts on a good day. Drives a bit like Audrey Roberts on a bad day.
Won’t play with: Furyk. Jim is probably too deliberate (and tediously slow) for the more instinctive Snedeker.