The Niggle: Friday’s opening Ryder Cup fourball pairings

The Scoop

The wait is almost over...

Tomorrow’s opening ceremony will reveal the eagerly anticipated fourball pairings who will get us underway at 7.35am on day one of the 40th Ryder Cup.

James Savage and Mark Townsend debate who they would send out for Team Europe in the morning session.

JS – The atmosphere for the first match on the 1st tee of the PGA Centenary on Friday will be electric. You need cool, calm customers but also a pairing to “get some blue on the board” and set the tone. I’m completely stealing David Howell’s suggestion, but Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson fit the bill perfectly.

MT – If you want to set the tone then send off the World No 1 and best player in the world. So I’ll go with Rory to hit Europe’s first shot and he’ll play with Sergio. Both are high energy and crowd pleasers and maybe the two best ball strikers in the world. Who on earth is going to fancy their chances against that?

JS – I don’t think anyone would relish going up against those two. But just don’t think there’s the need to send Rory out in the first match. Plus, if he was to get beat in the first match that’s a huge psychological boost to the Americans. In the second match, I’m sending out what I still believe to be Europe’s strongest partnership. Poulter and Rose. It has worked brilliantly in the past and will do again.

MT – Think McIlroy will love going off first and being the centre of the early attention. Agree that Stenson and Kaymer will play together and reckon they’ll be off second. Kaymer has yet to find a regular parter and has never really dazzled in this competition and Stenson would provide more than enough back up.

JS – Fair enough. We’re looking pretty strong so far either way. For the third pairing I’m going for Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson. The rookies will be itching to get out there and I like the feel of this partnership. A guy making his first Ryder Cup appearance alongside someone making his ninth. Donaldson is the form player – much more so than Stephen Gallacher – Westwood is the Ryder Cup stalwart chasing the all-time points record. It works for me.
It’s just the first morning though and you would hope, unless someone is horribly out of form, that all 12 will get a go on Friday” MT – For once we agree. Be good to get one of the rookies out there on the first morning and Donaldson is playing nicely and has a sound temperament. I did wonder if McDowell would start but Westwood seems a more likely fit for Donaldson. Also wondered (I’ve been wondering a lot the past few days) if Gallacher would be part of things on the first morning but imagine he will be out in the afternoon. There’ll be more than enough noise around 8am on Friday.

JS – For the final pair, I’m going with your opening duo. Roar-y and Sergio. There’s no way you can’t have the undisputed world no.1 out in the first session. It’s a debut for the partnership but there’s enough big-game experience – and a little bit of talent – to get the job done.

MT – And to finish…Poulter and Rose, obviously. They propped up the opening pairings in 2012 – McIlroy was first out at Medinah – and both won, albeit in a different format. So that means a morning off for Bjorn, Dubuisson, Gallacher and, surprisingly, McDowell.  It’s just the first morning though and you would hope, unless someone is horribly out of form, that all 12 will get a go on Friday.

WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD PLAY ON FRIDAY MORNING?

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