McGinley gives pairings hint

2014-09-23 13:14
Graeme McDowell

Gleneagles - Europe captain Paul McGinley is considering separating Northern Irish duo Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell for the Ryder Cup's opening fourballs at Gleneagles on Friday morning.

The Irishman sent his 12 players out in four groups of three at the PGA Centenary Course on Tuesday morning and the two were kept apart.

World number one McIlroy went out with Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia. McDowell was with Henrik Stenson and French rookie Victor Dubuisson.

McGinley, who revealed that he had asked retired Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson to give a motivational speech to his players, said that his starting line-up was taking shape.

"I've got an eye on potential partnerships over the next two days as well as today, and I'm playing guys with guys they could be partnered with and you'll see that tomorrow and the day after and it will give you some ideas to the way I'm going," he said.

McIlroy and McDowell have been regular partners in team events since 2009, winning three of their four matches in the Seve Trophy and also representing Ireland in the World Cup that year and 2011.

The Northern Irish duo have also played six times together in the Ryder Cup, including the opener at Medinah two years ago, and were thought to be a logical opening pairing at Gleneagles.

However, McGinley said that their record of two wins, three losses and one half from those six matches meant they were not a formidable pairing "written in stone."

Furthermore, McDowell said that McIlroy's elevation this year to superstar status had changed the dynamic between the two forever and he expressed a clear wish to be handed the job of "blooding" Dubuisson.

Elsewhere, the established English duo of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter played together along with Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher and Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn had Welsh rookie Jamie Donaldson for company.

Westwood, who needed a wildcard pick to get into the team, said he was impressed with the strength in depth the Europeans had.

"Well, I've played on some strong ones, but I tell you, this is right up there. It's equally as strong," he said.

"We've got a lot of very good world-class players. Pretty much, with the exception of maybe one, all the big tournaments this year have been won by Europeans and people on this team.

"We are in a pretty good position. We're confident without being complacent and looking forward to the week and showing how good we can play and coming together as a team."

On the American side, skipper Tom Watson chose to send out his players in three groups of four, making a forecast of pairing selections more of a lottery.

Still, he had Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who won all three of their matches at Medinah, together as well as close friends Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

The three American rookies were all in different groups as were Watson's three captain picks -- Simpson, Bradley and Hunter Mahan.

The 65-year-old, eight-time major champion is hoping to revive US fortunes in the biennial team showdown with Europe, having been at the helm the last time the Americans won in Europe in 1993.

He admits, though, that the task will be tough against a team that boasts four of the six top-ranked players in the world.

"As favourites are concerned, the media, the people that look at the teams, they look at Rory McIlroy, they look at Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. The European team is loaded," he said.

"But when the matches start at 7:35 on Friday morning, there's going to be quality of play going on. We'll just see who wins. I know our team is totally committed to bringing the Cup back.

"I know that. And I'm going to do everything in my power to help them do that and set the stage for them."

Read more on:    ryder cup  |  graeme mcdowell  |  rory mcilroy  |  golf

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