Sutton Pairs Woods Mickelson

By Golf Channel NewsroomSeptember 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- U.S. captain Hal Sutton sat before the media Wednesday and said he knew whom he would pair together in Friday mornings four-ball (better-ball) session, which will officially commence the 35th Ryder Cup.
But he didnt reveal anything ' to the press or to his players ' until Thursday.
Sutton, who said he it was imperative to get off to a good start, emphasized his point by announcing that he will send out Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the first group at 8:10 a.m. ET. They will face the equally impressive duo of Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington.
Woods has a career 2-4-0 record in four-balls, while Mickelson is 4-3-1. Montgomerie is 5-4-2, and Harrington is 1-1-0. It marks the ninth different partner for Woods, in 13 team matches.
'I felt like history needed it. I felt like the fans needed it. And most of all, I felt like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods needed it,' Sutton said when asked why he paired the two top-ranked Americans together.
'I've known in my mind for two years that I wanted to pair Tiger and Phil,' he added. 'But I didn't know until late yesterday afternoon about the rest of them.'
It is the second time Montgomerie, who is making his seventh Cup appearance, and Harrington, the only European ranked in the top 10 in the world, have been paired together. They beat Mickelson and David Toms, 2 and 1, in the Day 2 four-balls in 2002.
Six-time Ryder Cup veteran Davis Love III (2-5-2 in four-balls) will pair with rookie Chad Campbell in the second match. They will square off against Darren Clarke (3-2-1) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (1-0-1).
'Darren and Miguel Angel are two of the most experienced guys I have on my team,' European captain Bernhard Langer said, and then joked, 'They both like red wine, they both like smoking cigars and they have a lot of other things in common.'
'Davis and Chad are as strong as new rope,' Sutton said.
Stewart Cink and Chris Riley will take on Paul McGinley and Luke Donald in Match 3. Riley and Donald are rookies. Cink and McGinley both competed in 2002; though, Cink didnt play four-balls that year, and McGinley went 0-0-1.
In the final morning match, Toms and Jim Furyk will face Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. Toms went 1-1-0 in four-balls in his debut two years ago alongside Phil Mickelson. Furyk, meanwhile, is a lackluster 0-3-1. Westwood and Garcia went 3-1-0 as a team in 2002 at The Belfry.
'These two guys have had a lot of success in the past in Ryder Cups,' said Langer. 'They're actually very opposite, as you probably know. And that probably will help them out on the golf course to find a great balance.'
Sutton said that he plans on playing all of his players Friday. That means Jay Haas, Fred Funk, Chris DiMarco and Kenny Perry would all play in the afternoon foursomes, while four other players sit and watch.
Ian Poulter, Thomas Levet, Paul Casey and David Howell are skipping the morning session for the Europeans and are all hoping European captain Bernhard Langer will give them the go-ahead for the afternoon.
The teams will play one four-ball and one foursomes session -- with four team matches in each session -- each of the first two days, before playing 12 singles matches Sunday.
It takes 14 1/2 points to win the Ryder Cup. The Europeans, as the defending champions, can retain the chalice by earning a 14-14 tie.
Day 1 Four-ball
8:10 a.m. -- Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Colin Montgomerie/Padraig Harrington (Europe)
8:25 a.m. -- Davis Love III/Chad Campbell (USA) vs. Darren Clarke/Miguel Angel Jimenez (Europe)
8:40 a.m. -- Stewart Cink/Chris Riley (USA) vs. Paul McGinley/Luke Donald (Europe)
8:55 a.m. -- David Toms/Jim Furyk (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia/Lee Westwood (Europe)
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