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A look at Stricker's U.S. Presidents Cup pods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2017, 12:34 am

ATLANTA – The blueprint that Paul Azinger used so well at the 2008 Ryder Cup lives on for another U.S. team as the home side prepares for next week’s Presidents Cup in New Jersey.

According to numerous sources, U.S. captain Steve Stricker will use a pods system similar to the one Azinger made famous at Valhalla that allows for flexibility and familiarity in the team portion of the competition.

Each pod includes two rookies and two veterans, which is not surprising given the relative inexperience of Stricker’s team.

Sources say Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar will be in the same pod as rookies Kevin Kisner and Kevin Chappell; Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are with Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger; and Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are with Justin Thomas and Charley Hoffman.

Although Stricker and his assistant captains have multiple possible pairings for each player and could just as easily pair outside the pods, it seems likely teams will emerge from each group, and there are predictable pairs.

Spieth and Reed were, well, Spieth and Reed at last year’s Ryder Cup, going 2-1-1 at Hazeltine National, and many have said Thomas and Fowler, good friends who spend time together at home in south Florida, would be a potential team.

With six rookies Stricker, will have to experiment with some new pairings, and his pods offer a glimpse into what the captain may be thinking.

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Phil on pairing with Tiger: 'I think we'd both welcome it'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 2:46 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Fourteen years later, Phil Mickelson said that he’d be open to teaming again with Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup.

“I think we would both welcome it,” Mickelson said Tuesday. “I think we would both welcome it.”

Asked whether he thinks it’ll actually happen, Mickelson smiled. “I do have an idea of what Captain (Jim) Furyk is thinking, yeah.”

It’d be a remarkable pairing – again – for America’s two most popular players.

Captain Hal Sutton infamously put the pair together in 2004 at Oakland Hills, when they were Nos. 1 and 2 in the world and nowhere near as friendly as they are now. They failed spectacularly, going 0-2 en route to a blowout loss by the Americans.

Earlier this year, during an interview on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” Furyk shot down any prospect of a Tiger-Phil pairing. “I hope they’re both watching, because they just fell off the couch laughing,” he said. “I wouldn’t guess that would be a good idea as a captain, I’m just saying.”

The two stars’ relationship has improved dramatically over the past few years, beginning with the decision to put both on the Ryder Cup task force. During that time together, Mickelson said, “we realized that we both have a lot more in common than we thought, and I think we both have really come to appreciate working together to achieve things.”

They’ve worked together so well, and so often now, that Woods and Mickelson will now play in a pay-per-view, 18-hole match during Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas.

Though Furyk said that the practice-round groups Tuesday were focused more on putting players who hadn’t seen Le Golf National with at least one who has, there were some obvious partnerships who went out together.

Woods was grouped with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed. Rounding out the foursome? Mickelson.

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Tiger Tracker: 42nd Ryder Cup

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 25, 2018, 1:15 pm

Fresh off his 80th PGA Tour victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods is competing in his first Ryder Cup since 2012. We're tracking him.


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Euros wearing yellow ribbons to honor slain golfer

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 12:51 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – European Ryder Cup team members will wear yellow ribbons this week to honor Celia Barquin Arozamena, who was murdered last week while playing golf.

Arozamena went to school at Iowa State, but she was a native of Spain and won the European Amateur Championship in July. She was attacked and killed Sept. 17 while playing a round by herself at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa.

European captain Thomas Bjorn wore one of the ribbons while addressing media Tuesday at Le Golf National, and he explained that the decision to honor Arozamena came out of a discussion between Ryder Cup Europe and her mother.


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“The golfing family extends beyond what we are trying to do this week,” Bjorn said. “It’s nothing about us, but it’s just more about that the golfing family gets touched by these things all over the world. It’s terrible when things like this happen.”

Arozamena considered Ryder Cup stalwart and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia one of her idols growing up, and the two met when she was a child. Garcia sent condolences out via social media last week, saying he was “heartbroken” over her death.

“Such a great prospect for the game of golf she was, but also a wonderful person,” Bjorn said. “When you speak to Sergio and [Spaniard] Jon [Rahm] about it, they couldn’t talk highly enough about her. We felt like that was appropriate for the week.”

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Spieth, Reed in different groups during Tuesday practice

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 12:38 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tuesday’s U.S. groupings at the Ryder Cup may give a glimpse into what potential pairings we will see this week at Le Golf National.

In the day’s first foursome, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed played together. The second group included Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas; and the anchor group was Bubba Watson, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson.

Whether those groups will make up captain Jim Furyk’s version of the team’s pods, however, remains to be seen. Given that half of his team has never played Le Golf National, Furyk said he tried to match players on Tuesday with those who had some experience on the course.


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“Today is really about trying to learn the golf course and hit some solid golf shots,” Furyk said. “There may be some pairings out there and there's some groups there isn't. Just want them concentrating on their own game right now. They are very aware of who they will be playing with this week and they are very aware of some of the options they have.”

Given the success of previous pairings and some relatively obvious choices, it seems there are some likely options for the U.S. Woods and DeChambeau have become regular practice-round partners and at the Tour Championship they experimented with the other player’s golf balls on Tuesday.

It also seems likely that Spieth-Thomas and Fowler-Johnson will be paired in some form this week.