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Punch Shot: Must-see Presidents Cup pairings

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The U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams have been finalized. Now comes the fun part – pondering the pairings. The GolfChannel.com writers lists three pairings they most want to see at next month's matches.


By RANDALL MELL

Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. There isn’t a more potentially electric pairing in these matches, not one that’s realistic, anyway (Woods and Phil Mickelson would blow circuits in TV sets if they ever agreed to play together). In Woods and Spieth, there’s appeal seeing the game’s biggest star playing alongside a rising young star.

Phil Mickelson-Jordan Spieth. If the kid’s going to play, baptize him properly. Match him up with Woods and then Mickelson and see what kind of sparks fly.

Keegan Bradley and Jordan Spieth. Now there’s a team that could be together a long time, in a lot of Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups. 


By RYAN LAVNER

Fred Couples has already ventured out of his comfort zone once, picking 20-year-old Jordan Spieth over old warrior Jim Furyk. Now he has a chance to do it again with three pairings that could prove to be dynamite at Muirfield Village.

Tiger Woods-Brandt Snedeker. Break up Tiger and Stricker? No way! Why it would work: Sneds is a compatible partner, can rack up birdies in bunches, gets revved up for team competitions, and is – statistically, at least – a better putter than Stricker. In a team setting, that could be an unbeatable combo with Tiger’s ball-striking.

Phil Mickelson-Jordan Spieth. Break up Phil and Keegan? No way! Why it would work: Spieth provides Lefty the same jolt of youthful energy as Keegan, and Phil, the veteran, can coach the 20-year-old through his first pro team competition. Another thing: Right now, Spieth is playing better than Keegan.

Keegan Bradley-Jason Dufner. These dudes would just have a four-hour chuckle-fest! Why it would work: They’re both fierce competitors who would be more teammates than partners, and they wouldn’t want to let the other down. In an event that lacks any distinguishable characteristic, this duo could shine. 


By JASON SOBEL

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. The old veteran and the young rookie made for a formidable duo at last year’s Ryder Cup – and there’s no reason to think they won’t again next month. Mickelson wants to play with Bradley, Bradley wants to play with Mickelson, and Fred Couples is the kind of captain who likes to keep his players happy. Don’t be surprised to see ‘em together for three or four matches.

Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. I’m not holding my breath for this one. Everyone knows Tiger will likely team with Steve Stricker – at least to start the competition. That doesn’t mean I won’t wish for it to happen. It would be fun to see Woods partnered with the game’s most exciting young player. Being exposed to a jolt of youthful exuberance would get him smiling more. And he plays better when he’s smiling.

Adam Scott and Jason Day. Conventional wisdom says captain Nick Price should keep his two best players far away from each other, partnering each with a player of lesser talent. But here’s another way of looking at it: Put the two friends together in the first match of each session and he could go for an early win and some trickle-down momentum throughout the rest of the team. Anchormen don’t always have to run the anchor leg.


By WILL GRAY

• Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth: All eyes will be on Spieth next month at Muirfield Village, and captain Fred Couples may not be in a rush to break up the pairing of Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who shined together at last year’s Ryder Cup. Still, the notion of pairing the aggressive phenom with the reigning Open champion holds a significant amount of appeal, especially given the match-play format of the competition.

• Adam Scott and Jason Day: Australian golfers have, by any account, had a successful 2013 campaign, headlined by these two players. After winning the Masters this spring, Scott has not shied away from placing great importance on an International win this time around, and there would be no better way for him to put his stamp on these matches on foreign soil than alongside his fellow countryman Day, who has been in contention on seemingly every big-time stage this season.

• Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama: The “present” of the International team meets the “future.” Remarkably, Matsuyama was just two years old when Els captured his first U.S. Open title at Oakmont in 1994, yet the two find themselves bridging generational gaps while playing together on captain Nick Price’s squad. The young Japanese sensation has shown the ability to contend time and again this year on the PGA Tour, and who better to usher him onto the world’s stage (anyone remember Nicolas Colsaerts’ breakthrough last year at Medinah?) than the elder statesman of the International team.