With the first-day practice pairings now out on the course, we've picked each group apart to see if Luke Donald and Zach Johnson have provided any insight as to who will be playing together come Friday.
Having speculated about who would be teaming up together on the opening day of the 2023 Ryder Cup, we can now take a peak at the first-day practice pairings to see if any more clues have been revealed as to who will be representing their team when the first shot is struck on Friday morning.
While these groupings will undoubtedly get fans and media around the world eagerly attempting to figure out potential pairings for the opening day, Donald was quick to pour cold water on the idea that these groups give too much away in a press conference earlier today.
Providing a short and sharp response, he said:
Obviously, trying to keep his cards close to his chest, Donald won't want to give anything away before the pairings are officially announced, but that won't stop us from trying our best to figure out exactly what both captains are thinking in the lead up to the opening day at Marco Simone Country Club.
Let's get into it.
Practice round groupings revealed.
Ryder Cup Practice Pairings pic.twitter.com/EkeMYzVtTW— Andy Roberts (@AndyRobertsGolf) September 26, 2023
An exciting selection that sees McIlroy and Lowry going out together once again. The pair played in the afternoon fourballs on Friday at Whistling Straights in 2021 but got beaten convincingly by Tony Finau and Harris English. Potentially looking for revenge, the two close friends could make for an electric pairing, with McIlroy's length and Lowry's exquisite short game being an ideal combo for sinking US hopes.
With McIlroy and Lowry looking likely to go out together, that leaves Ryder Cup rookie Straka teaming up with seasoned veteran Fleetwood. Following a breakout year on the PGA Tour, Straka will be feeling confident heading into the Ryder Cup and could find himself relying on the cool head of Fleetwood to keep his first tee nerves to a minimum.
Fleetwood's elite ball-striking and Straka's steady hand with the putter will hopefully be an ideal combination for Team Europe.
This group provides the potential for some genuinely mouth-watering pairings. With all four players bang in form heading into the Ryder Cup, we could see fireworks from all of them.
Hovland and Rahm have the potential to be a nearly unstoppable pairing, but with Aberg playing in only his first Ryder Cup, it's more likely we will see Donald pair him up with the experience of Rahm to see if the two can form a strong relationship that could be a potent weapon for years to come.
We had previously picked Rahm and Hatton to be paired together, and it could certainly still happen, but if Aberg is to join Rahm, then a Hatton/Hovland pairing would provide equal levels of excitement.
This group could really go either way, with any iteration providing serious firepower.
This group provides some interesting choices for Donald, with Hojgaard and MacIntyre both playing in their first Ryder Cup. Will we see the two split up between the more experienced Rose and Fitzpatrick, or could we see a potential rookie pairing heading out together to tackle their first tee nerves together?
As romantic as a rookie pairing sounds, we think the two will be separated, with Rose and Fitzpatrick both providing some much-needed experience for the two young guns.
Providing absolutely no surprises to anyone who's watched team golf before, we think it's fair to say that from this group, we are looking at Spieth/Thomas and Cantlay/Schauffele going out together.
The two well-established pairings both have formidable records in team matchplay, and Johnson has clearly stuck to a proven formula in order to get the best out of all four players.
Featuring the returning Fowler and two Ryder Cup rookies in Homa and Harman, this group is an interesting one that could go either way. The GolfMagic team had previously predicted that Homa and Morikawa would go out together, so we're going to stick with that selection.
That leaves Ryder Cup veteran Fowler teaming up with 2023 Open champion Harman. Harman was the #1 ranked scrambler on the PGA Tour this season, which could prove to be a valuable trait by the looks of the rough at Marco Simone. With Fowler having refound the form that saw him selected for four previous Ryder Cups, the two could combine nicely to form a pairing that will pick apart their opposition on and around the greens.
Best pals Scheffler and Burns look like the obvious pairing in this group, and despite struggling as a duo at the 2022 President's Cup, they look like the more likely out of the four to go out together.
That leaves two 2023 major winners, Koepka and Clark, the likely final pairing in the US team. Clark made some audacious statements in recent weeks claiming he thinks he's currently better than McIlroy, and Koepka will be hoping his potential partner can deliver on that statement when it comes to teeing it up on Friday.
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