Give the name of the European player who will play the most marginal role in this Ryder Cup…
Steve: Probably an obvious answer but Sergio may be spending a lot of time on the bench should the opening day not fall his way. I believe he’s in primarily for his role in the team room rather than what he’s going to do on the course. Given what happened with Westwood in 2016, it’s a brave captain that puts him back into action again before the singles if he’s suffered a hammering on the opening day following some very mediocre form this season. If Sergio does perform then Olesen might be taking a back seat as some more established big names get the limelight.
Dan: I think the obvious answer here is Olesen – he’s a rookie and the last of the automatic qualifiers. I have to presume that Bjorn is going to pick his wild cards having chosen them in the first place. Rookies can play any role from the peripheral to the surprise package. If not Olesen, and I’m happy to stick with my original answer, I could see a scenario whereby Hatton struggles in his opening match and isn’t seen again until Sunday. Or he could play like a European Patrick Reed and get five games. One of the two.
Mark: Olesen is the go-to answer but he’s one of the most in-form players on the side. Who knows how it’s going to play out. Pieters didn’t look much of a shoo-in to feature much last time and the matches are packed with unlikely heroes. But, yeah, Olesen.
James: I’d have say Olesen as he seems to have the fewest natural partners. And I don’t think he’ll be expecting to play as much as some others. But I’d be watching Rahm and Hatton closely in their opening matches to see how they are handling things emotionally. If either has a meltdown early doors then I could see them being benched until Sunday.
Share the European pairing that will never be seen – no matter what happens in Paris…
Dan: This is a surprisingly tricky question because I really don’t want to see my pairing named by Bjorn for the opening fourballs. However. In what world do Molinari and Poulter get sent out together? They are two experienced players who play the game very differently. I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen. Or is it?
James: Molinari’s performance coach Dave Alred told me that his former player, Luke Donald, struggled at the Ryder Cup when paired with someone who was quiet and introverted like him. He was then paired with Poulter in the afternoon and won because he helped him come out of his shell. So maybe Poulter and Molinari isn’t that silly? I’m going to say Casey and Hatton is an unlikely one.
Mark: Hatton and Rahm, can you imagine what might happen if they got the nod together. They might end up throwing one or both of their opponents into one of the lakes.
Steve: I’m not sure the pairing of Casey and Fleetwood will ever see the light of day, which is a shame as I think that duo might actually work pretty well in foursomes. Maybe Casey could take his Nike clubs off the shelf and come to Fleetwood’s rescue if he bends a 7-iron…