By Raymond Burns
Team Europe By Golffile
It may be a year later than expected, but the Ryder Cup is finally here and all eyes will be on Pádraig Harrington and Steve Stricker today to see who they select as their pairs for the opening foursomes session on Friday morning at Whistling Straits.
A lot of if buts and maybes have been swirling around the golfing world, debating whether Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry will play together and form a formidable partnership like Harrington, McGinley, Clarke and McDowell did over the last two decades of Ryder Cup golf.
I think Rory has to show up in a big way, he’s one of Europe’s most experienced players having played in the last five Ryder Cups even though he’s only 31.
We know from previous Ryder Cups he has been inspired playing in other Ryder Cups, it gets his blood boiling.
Nobody doesn’t want to play with Rory so I think it’s important that he’s paired with players that hit the ball similar to him, the likes of Bernd Wiesberger and Shane Lowry who is great pals with him. I can see Rory taking either of those players on the first morning, I think he might even lead the team out and Harrington might have that in his thoughts.
I’m not sure if McIlroy will be with a Poulter or a Hatton or Fleetwood I think he will be with a rookie like Lowry, I think they could be a great combination especially in fourball, they play a lot together and it might be a big help from a crowd perspective with the Irish Americans and the Irish in Wisconsin which could light up the fairways from a European perspective.
Harrington doesn’t give much away but I would not be surprised to see McIlroy and Lowry become a very formidable pairing and I think McIlroy will have let Harrington know who he might like to play with.
I think Jon Rahm will play a massive part and be with a rookie, these guys are going to have to be a massive part of the structure of the Ryder Cup.
There’s been a lot of Ryder Cups where captains have relied on eight players out of the twelve, even in Paris there was eight players really playing well in Europe and captains feel that they know who can ride it out for four or five matches.
You can have your ideas on day one and stick with your guns but in these situations the movie is being made and you must go with the flow, who was to know Leona Maguire would play five matches, and with Mel Reid they became a very formidable pair.
I think Harrington will feel his way with the crowd, the forecast, it’s a very difficult golf course, it’s challenging to walk, hard on the legs and mind so I think he will use as many players as he can, he may not use them all on the first day but I’m sure he would like to hope by Saturday afternoon’s fourballs he will have used every player on the team.
Harrington spoke about how the Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka feud could bring the US dressing room together and I think it would be great for golf to see them paired together, we have never had argumentative players on Tour who visibly don’t like each other, it would be quite funny as DeChambeau alluded to earlier this year and would add some more spice to the event.
We will never see two heavyweight boxers who trash talk each other, playing on the same team in golf we can do that.
American teams are very individual, a lot of these golfers do separate things every day, they don’t live their life the same way. That’s always been a negative for the American Ryder Cup team. Some fly private jets some don’t, some stay in houses and things so they all like to do different things.
The Europeans have more comradery. We grow up different in Europe, in the US they go to college and come up through the system, over here some kids leave school, go to the States and some don’t.
As Europeans we stick together more and are used to eachother’s culture, while in the US everyone is American, but everyone has their own way of living their life.
Stricker will pull it together and make the players realise that while they might all not like each other they have to come together as a team for this week. He’s a very well respected captain with the likes of Fred Couples and Zach Johnson and with six rookies it isn’t your normal team it’s a different mix than what we have seen over the years.
All these kids played junior golf and amateur golf together so they all know each other and seeing Xander Schauffele win the Olympic Gold and how patriotic he was that could rub off on the American team as well.
It's going to be a great week and I know the Americans have all 12 inside the top-21 in the rankings but that doesn't reflect truly on the Europeans who have not had the same opportunity to play on the PGA Tour this season so I am expecting it to be a very tight contest.
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