SAN FRANCISCO — In the foursomes (alternate-shot) matches this week, the players who are paired together will often play different brands of balls. The prevailing wisdom is that the teams should tee off with the ball preferred by the player who will hit the approach shot. Performance of most low-spinning, multilayer balls is fairly similar off the tee, the thinking goes, but the players would notice a different feel when hitting irons and wedges. Since
distance control from the fairway is critical to setting up birdies,
you want the player who is going to hit the approach shot to use his
preferred ball. The rules allow the teams to switch balls after completing a hole.On Wednesday morning, as the American team practiced
on the back nine at Harding Park, I snuck a peek at the balls the
players used off the tee, and I used that information to make a guess as to Thursday's pairings, which will be announced later this afternoon.1. Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard: Furyk was teeing off on the even-numbered holes using a Nike ONE Tour ball. He typically plays a Srixon Z-Star X.2. Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson: Kim, who plays a Nike ONE Tour, used a Callaway Tour ix ball off the tee on the even-numbered holes (photo).3. Zach Johnson and Kenny Perry: They both use a Titleist Pro V1x,
but Perry asked Zach if he could use one of his balls on the tee at 13.
"His is a little bit different than mine," Perry told a bystander.
It's very possible that they use a Pro V1x ball from different model
years.4. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker: Woods teed off on the odd-numbered holes using a Titleist Pro V1 instead of his Nike One Tour.5. Hunter Mahan and Sean O'Hair: After hitting O'Hair's TaylorMade Penta TP off the tee on 13, Mahan said, "Wow! It spins a lot." Mahan uses a Titleist Pro V1x.6. Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover: Both players use a Nike ONE Tour D ball.Follow David Dusek on Twitter