Donald Offering Up Ryder Cup Clues With Wentworth Pairings - McGinley

Paul McGinley says Luke Donald is right to pair up his Ryder Cup players at Wentworth to try and figure out potential partnerships for Rome

Paul McGinley in action during the 2022 MCB Tour Championship - Mauritius
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paul McGinley says people should absolutely see the grouping of Europe's 12 players at the BMW PGA Championship as clues to possible Ryder Cup pairings, as he did exactly the same when he was captain.

The victorious 2014 European skipper backed Luke Donald in asking for all of his players to play the first two rounds at Wentworth together - and says we should take note of who is playing with who.

McGinley says there's no real time during Ryder Cup week to just magic up some preferred pairings, so Donald is doing the right thing by placing his players with potential partners this week.

It's something McGinley did and from the groupings we can deduce who Donald fancies playing together at Marco Simone in Rome - at least at this stage of his thinking.

Rory McIlroy is playing with Ludvig Aberg and Viktor Hovland, with Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka also grouped together.

Jon Rahm is alongside Tyrrell Hatton and Nicolai Hojgaard and English pair Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose are featuring with Robert MacIntyre.

“A lot of it is just trial and error, you don’t have a lot of opportunity in Ryder Cup week to get a lot of wheels in motion," McGinley said on Sky Sports at Wentworth.

"And I certainly took advantage of it when I was Ryder Cup captain, in the whole 12 months leading into it I was pairing guys together.

"It's just forming relationships – it’s not just the players getting to know each other, it’s the caddies as well and understanding each other’s games."

Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg at Wentworth

(Image credit: Getty Images)

And McGinley likes the look of a couple of potential pairings Donald could deploy in Rome.

"You could certainly look at guys potentially working together no doubt," he added. "Rahm and Hatton have played together before.

"McIlroy and Aberg, that could be a very exciting partnership should that happen or you might have the Scandinavians of Aberg and Hovland together – they did play a practice round together over in Italy and that could ignite too.

"So you look through all of those and you can see, there's a lot of chopping and changing and trial and error going on with Luke and his team behind the scenes and using the opportunity of all 12 players playing in the one event."

McGinley Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

And although Donald's thinking is now out there for all to see, including USA captain Zach Johnson, McGinley isn't concerned in the slightest as the pairings aren't even close to being as important as the order they go out in during the Ryder Cup.

"During Ryder Cup week you hear all kinds of rumours - he's going to play with him and 'I just heard this from such and such' but it doesn’t really matter.

"Because its all about what order the go out in, and if you found out what order they were going out in then you can mix it around, but that’s not the case. 

"So I dismissed all of that to be honest and you just focus on what you’re doing and setting out your plan accordingly."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.