Potential Pairings At The 2023 Ryder Cup

We try to decipher who might play with who at the 44th Ryder Cup matches at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club

Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland
McIlroy and Hovland: Together in Rome?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From a distance trying to predict the European pairings looks to be a bit of a finger-in-the-air job. With the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter all now gone Europe have lost much of their old foundations. 

Garcia and Rahm were perfect for one another while the likes of Westwood, Poulter and Stenson gave you all manner of options. But all things must come to an end and, in truth, it's more a case of time rather LIV Golf that has ended their Ryder Cup careers. 

Here are five possible pairings that we might see in Rome.


1) Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy

We seem to have spent since 2010 trying to find Rory's perfect partner. We started off with Graeme McDowell but that never quite worked out. Maybe now it's time to give Rory what he likes best and stick him out there front and centre and who better to pair him with than one of the hottest players on the planet? When Hovland came off the 18th green at Olympia Fields, having shot a 61 to win the BMW Championship, he said to Rory that 'It's going to be a lot of fun in Rome' so let's read lots/too much into that. Reportedly they also had a match against another European pair in the practice days at Royal Liverpool.

2) Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton

That match was against Fleetwood and Hatton who played together on two days of practice at Hoylake as well as at the Hero Cup. Hatton appears to be a world away from a Francesco Molinari-type of character but he's nothing like his on-course persona and you could see these two having quite a lot of fun. Stick them down for a couple of foursomes where we're likely to see a lot of the European big guns. 

3) Jon Rahm and Sepp Straka

In my head these two would be absolute bulldogs. Get them out there early on and let them go nuts. In truth Straka probably isn't that type of character but Rahm would make up for that. If you were to watch Straka when he's playing well then it's hard to think of anyone better. He barely misses a beat and repeatedly hits it close and he seems like someone who's well capable of teaming up with Rahm.

European Ryder Cup pairings

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4) Shane Lowry and Robert MacIntyre

Again, this might be a bit romantic but there's a lot to like about this possibility. Two of the really good guys, dynamite short games and they wouldn't give you a thing. A lot is made these days about rookies not really being rookies given their experience but you would still want someone alongside you who's been there before. It's bizarre that this will be only Lowry's second start but a home match is very different and you'd like to think that the Irishman will thrive in Rome.

5) Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick is yet to win a point at a Ryder Cup and Rose could prove the perfect settler for him. In truth Fitzpatrick would likely be the senior partner these days in terms of ability, which might be good for him, and Rose will fit into any role. He's deserved more from the Ryder Cup over the years, twice narrowly missing out, and they could nudge each other along nicely. 

Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa

(Image credit: Getty Images)


1) Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

When Rome finally comes around we'll likely wonder what all the fuss was about with Thomas. Finally America have got a Poulter-type character and they'll be glad that they've stuck with him. And with Thomas we get Spieth – 100 per cent together at the last Presidents Cup, 3/4 in Paris where their team got hammered. The first pre-requisite of a good pairing is to get on and free your partner up – we know this is a banker.

2) Xander Schaffele and Patrick Cantlay

This is just a certainty to happen, perhaps more so in foursomes, but we'll see these two together in Italy. They've contributed 6/9 points in the past three Ryder and Presidents Cups and one just comes with the other. Even their careers seem to have followed similar paths; outstanding players, a year apart, one has eight PGA Tour wins and the other seven and both should have threatened more in Majors. 

3) Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa 

This is a bit leftfield as it's hard to picture seeing these two together. But if we cast our minds back to Whistling Straits and how Morikawa played with Dustin Johnson, then we can almost substitute Koepka for Johnson. Let one of them do the big hitting and then try and give Morikawa the majority of the iron shots. Which is over-simplifying things but they could easily suffocate their opposition by their collective ball striking. 

Tony Finau and Max Homa

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4) Scottie Scheffler and Rickie Fowler

It's hard to over-emphasise quite how spectacular Scheffler's approach play so, again, let's keep things simple and pair him up with someone who holes a lot of putts. There have been countless Ryder Cups where European heroes have been freed up on the greens when it comes to the team arena and the sight of Fowler's putts running at the hole could do the trick for Scheffler. Plus Fowler would likely relish a big-time pairing and wouldn't be thrown by playing with the World No. 1.

5) Tony Finau (Wyndham Clark) and Max Homa

Getting the foursomes right, as was proved in Paris, can prove to be crucial and these two teamed up for two wins from two outings at the 2022 Presidents Cup. You're probably struggling to find two better blokes in the American team. If paired together they will find a way of giving Finau the majority of the approach shots and then get Homa to knock in the putts.

If big Tony doesn't get the nod then let's have the US Open champ in there which would mean two rookies but also two players inside the world's top 15.

Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.