GLENEAGLES, Scotland – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson’s Day 1 pairings seemed to have fallen into place after three practice rounds at Gleneagles.
Watson sent virtually the same foursomes out on Wednesday as he did the first two days, and Phil Mickelson ended perhaps the week’s worst kept secret: “I'm going to play again with Keegan. I don't think I'm letting go of any secrets here,” he said.
It’s also looking likely that Rickie Fowler will pair with Jimmy Walker on Day 1, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar will team, and Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson will continue their partnership.
That leaves Zach Johnson to play with Hunter Mahan, who he paired with in 2010 at Celtic Manor, and Jim Furyk with Patrick Reed.
“(The pairings) have somewhat evolved. We are not set in stone,” Tom Watson said. “We kind of have an idea of who is going to play with whom at the beginning, but after that you're coaching and you're captaining by the seat of your pants.”
Based on individual player records, it stands to reason that Captain Watson would send Simpson and Bubba Watson out in the morning fourball session since they have a combined 5-1-0 record in the format. Similarly, Mickelson has a 6-8-2 fourball Ryder Cup record and Bradley was perfect in the one best-ball match he played in 2012.
Conversely, that would allow Captain Watson to rest Furyk, who has a much better foursomes (4-6-2) then fourball (1-8-1) record, until the afternoon alternate-shot session along with Johnson and Mahan, who may be the American side’s best foursomes pairing, with a combined 5-3-2 record in the format.
It should also be noted that Bubba Watson and Simpson played alternate-shot on their second nine on Wednesday and were overheard talking strategy during the round (hint: Watson will likely tee off on three of the four par 3s which are even numbered holes).