Let the guessing games begin as we look to unravel who plays with who at Whistling Straits
The next few days generally offer some of the most interesting and often much of the most misjudged speculation over who’s going to play with who at the Ryder Cup.
All will be revealed at the Thursday opening ceremony, we’ll all obsess a bit too much about the Friday morning foursomes before the pace of the competition takes over and we all get swept along with things for the next three days.
Let’s start with some possible European pairings.
Before we go any further we need to think about who’s going to play all five matches on what is a long course on the longest week of the year despite it being over just three days.
Rory McIlroy has never missed a session and there’s no reason, other than a pretty dramatic drop in form, to suggest that’s going to change this week.
We can also expect Jon Rahm to do likewise, maybe there will be plenty of action for Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland and then it’s down to pairings that are working and current form.
European Ryder Cup Pairings – Our Predictions
McIlroy and Poulter – Foursomes
If you were a betting man you would think that Poulter will get a couple of outings before doing what he does best, delivering a point in the singles.
It’s the opening morning, everyone is on high alert and these two could be dispatched early doors to try and get the ground running for the visitors.
Expect an early mention of the M word… momentum.
Fleetwood and Garcia – Foursomes
Ah, Moliwood, wasn’t it beautiful?
This could be Europe’s darling couple come Sunday night.
Harrington singled out Fleetwood as being one of Europe’s premier ball strikers and you’re not going to go far wrong with captain’s pick Garcia.
The last time America were at home they opened up with a Friday morning foursomes whitewash and it’s quite easy to see Harrington leaning on this type of pairing before maybe being a bit more adventurous as time goes on.
Rahm and Hovland – Foursomes and fourballs
We need to get away from the whole rookie chat though I will almost certainly let myself down later on in this.
Rahm is the World No. 1 and debutant Hovland is the World No. 13, they are Europe’s two highest-ranked players.
Why would you not want to get both of them out on the course as early as possible?
For Hovland what could be better than having Rahm as your partner, for Rahm you’ve got the most outstanding rookie going.
Fill your boots lads, thanks for the point, same again this afternoon.
Westwood and Fitzpatrick – Foursomes and fourballs
This won’t be top of Harrington’s thinking but they did play together in the EurAsia Cup five years ago and (I’m not sure why I’m writing this) they did win 5&4 against Anirban Lahiri and Ashun Wu.
A bit of alternate shot in Malaysia is genuinely irrelevant but they have at some point probably asked to play together, Fitzpatrick’s caddie Billy Foster was with Westwood for years and years and they’re similar-ish characters.
If they can get Westwood hitting a lot of irons and Fitzpatrick a lot of putts it could be magic.
Casey and Hatton – Fourballs
We’ve got so little to go on from Paris but this might be one partnership that we might see again.
The Englishmen combined really strongly in France and they’re probably not the warm, fuzzy characters like some of their team members and they may be best suited with one another.
Fourball definitely would seem to suit Hatton as, given some of his post-shot reactions, foursomes may become a little bit exhausting.
Then again these are two of Harrington’s big guns so why not throw them out in a round of foursomes and maybe spook the Americans?
McIlroy and Lowry – Fourballs
This is one of the big questions of the week as it is every other two years; who plays with Rory?
It might be a bit much (which is a bit of a nonsense comment) to send Lowry straight out the blocks in the foursomes so maybe old Shane will be kept back until the afternoon as Rory alternates his partners.
The country with country thinking seems, thankfully, to be a thing of the past but these two are big pals and you would imagine they will be in Harrington’s ear to give them a go.
Garcia/Fleetwood and Wiesberger – Fourballs
A big part of this week is spent saying things like ‘Garcia and Wiesberger are good friends off the course’.
It wouldn’t be a huge leap of faith to see it happening and what better way than a nice, sociable game of afternoon fourballs in front of millions to bolster that friendship?
Maybe Fleetwood could also be the man to partner the Austrian though a small part of me sees him with Casey at some point…