Ryder Cup 2016: Breaking Down the Saturday Morning Pairings

October 1, 2016
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CHASKA, Minn. — After an early sweep and an afternoon rally, the U.S. leads Europe 5-3 entering the weekend at the Ryder Cup. Here’s how Saturday morning’s foursomes matches look from Row E in the media center:

Match No. 1 – 8:35 a.m. ET

Rickie Fowler & Phil Mickelson vs. Rory McIlroy & Thomas Pieters

Rory gets another crack at Phil and Rickie, who snatched a point in Friday morning’s foursomes match after Rory and Andy Sullivan bogeyed two of the final four holes. A coincidence that Rory gets a rematch? I doubt it. In fact, I imagine that Rory demanded it and even though the draw is blind, it’s well-known that Mickelson prefers to go out first. Rory has to be happier about the rematch than Phil or Rickie. Rory is killing it—did you see that eagle he drained to extinguish Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar Friday night? Rory is on fire, and he’s on a mission. Phil and Rickie have to step it up.

The call: Europe.

Match No. 2 – 8:50 a.m. ET

Brandt Snedeker & Brooks Koepka vs. Henrik Stenson & Matthew Fitzpatrick

Stenson might’ve had Thor’s Hammer in his bag Friday, he played so well. He poured on five birdies in fourballs and, hey, Hazeltine isn’t really that easy. All Fitzpatrick does is hit fairways and greens. He’s on the short side and Hazeltine is long, but he plays plenty of long courses around the world and gets by. This is a good duo. It better be, because Snedeker and Koepka were hot in fourballs in the afternoon, carding seven birdies. Koepka has the power game to match the Swede, and Snedeker is one of the better putters on the tour. Foursomes is a different game than fourballs, though.

The call: Europe.

Match No. 3 – 9:05 a.m. ET

Jimmy Walker & Zach Johnson vs. Justin Rose & Chris Wood

The Walker-Johnson pairing didn’t look too promising Friday, but they finished strong and pulled down a big point. If these guys play near their best, they are formidable in this format. Wood gets off the bench belatedly and joins Rose, who contributed four birdies in fourballs. This is a case where U.S. captain Davis Love figures, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ and is sending out the same successful team. Probably a good move. Clarke had two guys to fit in and had to bust up his best team, Rose and Stenson. That move could backfire.

The call: United States.

Match No. 4 – 9:20 a.m. ET

Patrick Reed & Jordan Spieth vs. Sergio Garcia & Rafa Cabrera-Bello

The Americans had the best score (3 under) of any foursomes group and played terrific in fourballs, with birdies on five of the first six holes. Too bad Stenson and Rose buried them with nine birdies. This is the top U.S. pairing and your top team has to win its points. Garcia got back in his groove in the afternoon fourballs, and Rafa was impressive, too. Garcia putts more aggressively when he’s got a partner as opposed to foursomes, where he has to be more conservative on the greens.

The call: United States.