AUCHTERADER, Scotland — The United States team wasted a good start Friday morning with a poor finish Friday afternoon and as a result, captain Tom Watson made some lineup changes for Saturday morning’s four-ball matches in an effort to lead his team back from a 5-3 deficit.
Watson’s biggest move was sitting down the pairing of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who split a pair of matches the opening day. He also benched one of his wild-card picks, Webb Simpson, and paired Bubba Watson with Matt Kuchar.
The rookie duo of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, who won easily in their four-ball match but was idle in the afternoon, returns to action. As does Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan, a new pairing.
European captain Paul McGinley didn’t change much but he did rest Sergio Garcia, putting Ian Poulter in as Rory McIlroy’s partner. McGinley also brought back Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson, who played an impressive foursomes round in the afternoon.
Here are the pairings for Saturday morning’s fourball matches:
Match 1: Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, U.S., vs. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, Europe. Rose and Stenson have been the powerhouse team for the Euros, winning twice already. Rose is on with his short game and his putter and Stenson fine-tuned his ballstriking in the afternoon. They look hard to beat and Watson and Kuchar had shaky opening days. The pick: Europe.
Match 2: Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan, U.S., vs. Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood, Europe. Furyk is No. 4 in the world rankings, the highest ranked American, and the team needs him to spark a rally. Donaldson and Westwood looked very comfortable in foursomes. This one is a tossup. The pick: Europe.
Match 3 Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, U.S., vs. Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn, Europe: The young American rookies wielded hot putters Friday and were surprised they didn’t get foursomes duty in the afternoon. They had momentum. Kaymer played well and Bjorn looked very solid. This match is up for grabs but Spieth and Reed play with attitude and have even more to prove now. The pick: U.S.
Match 4: Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler, U.S., vs. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, Europe. Walker and Fowler played well the opening day yet somehow came away with only two halves. McIlroy, who doesn’t like playing in the wind, struggled and showed only flashes of brilliance. Will a pairing with Poulter be magical? Poulter didn’t show much Friday and the putts he made were mostly par saves. Walker was the U.S. team’s Mr. Clutch on Friday. The pick: U.S.