GLENEAGLES, Scotland – For Tom Watson, this one was easy.
Trailing the European team 10-6, his only choice for a Sunday singles rally like the one the Continent pulled off two years ago was to send this week’s top performers out first in hopes that they could create some momentum.
Watson also knew European captain Paul McGinley would do the same.
“I know that Paul's put out some pretty heavy hitters right off of the bat there with (Graeme) McDowell, (Henrik) Stenson, (Rory) McIlroy and (Justin) Rose right in the first four,” Watson said. “I felt he was going to do that, so I think it was time to give the rookies a chance to see what they have got. I put them out first and second.”
The “rookies” are Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who have combined to deliver nearly half (2 1/2) of the American's points this week. Spieth will lead off against McDowell followed by Reed against Stenson.
Rickie Fowler, who has also been a bright spot for the U.S. team this week, will play McIlroy in the day’s third game, followed by Rose vs. Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson vs. Stephen Gallacher, Bubba Watson vs. Martin Kyamer, Matt Kuchar vs. Thomas Bjorn, Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter, Keegan Bradley vs. Jamie Donaldson, Jimmy Walker vs. Lee Westwood and Zach Johnson vs. Victor Dubuisson in the anchor position.
“Since two years ago, I wanted (McDowell) to play No. 1 if I ever became captain. Never changed my mind and never shared it with anybody,” McGinley said. “I only shared it to Graeme on Wednesday when I told him what his role was this week. I told him what I needed him to do. I needed him to play with Victor in one session today because I wanted him fresh to play No. 1 in the singles.”
In 2012 when the Europeans pulled off the Miracle at Medinah, captain Jose Maria Olazabal also front-loaded his lineup and the Continent won the first five matches and 8 1/2 points of Sunday’s 12 points. It’s the same number the U.S. needs on Sunday to complete the Glory at Gleneagles.