Ryder Cup 2023: Predicting the pairings for Team Europe and Team USA

Europe and Team USA have finalised their sides for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy. GolfMagic takes a look at the potential pairings.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 5 Sep 2023
Ryder Cup 2023: Predicting the pairings for Team Europe and Team USA

The teams for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy have been confirmed and now only one question remains: what are those pairings likely to be?

Sadly for Luke Donald's Europe, Tommy Fleetwood will not have Francesco Molinari alongside him at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club. 

The duo were instrumental for Thomas Bjorn's victorious side the last time the Cup was hosted on European soil in 2018. 

Fleetwood and Molinari went 4-0 together and become one of golf's great love stories. Now they'll need a new duo to step up. 

For Team USA. they are without the dependable Dustin Johnson who went 5-0-0 at the last Ryder Cup. 

That being said, they've kept together the nucleus of the side that swaggered to a 19-9 victory in 2021 at Whistling Straits. 

Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler were part of Steve Stricker's side that inflicted the largest margin of victory in Ryder Cup history since the 28-point format came about. 

For Europe, they will be playing their first Cup without their record points scorer Sergio Garcia. Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are not involved either. Only Justin Rose can count himself as a member of the old guard that remains involved. 

Oh, and on both sides there are a number of rookies that captains Donald and Zach Johnson will have to think about it. 

The teams:

Team USA

Automatic qualifiers

Captain's picks

Team Europe

Automatic qualifiers

Captain's picks

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Below, GolfMagic's staff have taken a crack at who they think will be the most likely pairings for the fourballs and foursomes at the 2023 Ryder Cup. 

Andy Roberts, Editor

Fourballs:

Europe

  • Rory McIlroy and Ludvig Aberg
  • Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton
  • Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose
  • Viktor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick

USA

  • Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele
  • Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth
  • Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns
  • Max Homa and Collin Morikawa

Foursomes:

Europe

  • Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland
  • Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton
  • Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry
  • Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick

USA

  • Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele
  • Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka
  • Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns
  • Collin Morikawa and Max Homa

Why have you chosen these pairings?

Fourballs

I would 100% let Ludvig Aberg loose with Rory McIlroy in the fourballs session. I think it will give the rookie a chance to feel as comfortable as possible playing alongside Europe's leading player. He can just let it rip off the tee and go out there and play fearless golf, just as he has done in recent weeks on the DP World Tour when he clearly had a point to prove. I think a McIlroy and Aberg partnership would really fire the crowd up. 

I also really like the look of a fiery partnership between Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. I think that is a match made in heaven (or complete disaster, however you want to look at it?!) I think those two together would be blockbuster viewing for the fans, but as for whether Donald would fancy it remains to be seen. 

Other fourballs pairings I really like the look for for Europe include Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland. I think that is real solid. Two players in fantastic form of late, especially Hovland, and I would not be surprised if they didn't come back with at least half a point no matter the pairing that faced them. I also like a potential all-English pairing of Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose. They're very close friends and it just makes sense.

When it comes to the United States, I think a lot of them are all oven-ready. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will play every session together, there is no doubt in my mind about that, especially if they start well on the Friday. The only way I could see them not being sent out on Saturday is if they got battered by a European pairing on Friday. But I can't see it, Schauffele and Cantlay are best pals and they are easily the strongest pairing that will be sent out by the Americans in Rome. 

Other fourballs pairings that will likely play out include more best friends in Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. These guys have played golf together just about all of their lives and they know each other's games inside out. Thomas was picked for a reason, and that was to be sent out with Spieth. Rickie Fowler might have a say in this partnership, as the three of them are all good friends and typically play practice rounds together. 

Scottie Scheffler will likely go out with Sam Burns more often than not during the week. They are very close friends and know each other's games well. It's another banker of a partnership you would anticipate, especially given Burns was handed one of Zach Johnson's six picks. There was a reason for that, and it was so he could be out there with the World No.1. 

Another potential fourballs pairing is Max Homa and Collin Morikawa. They recently played together in a team event on the PGA Tour, and they have already made their feelings clear they wish to be sent out again at the Ryder Cup. There really is no secrecy to the United States pairings, whereas the same most cannot be said about Team Europe. That could be a positive or negative, I guess we'll find out at the end of the week. 

Foursomes

While it might be something of a risk to send out two of your biggest stars together, I do really like a pairing of McIlroy and Hovland should it happen. I think that pairing would be sent straight out against Cantlay and Schauffele, or Thomas and Spieth. Donald may choose to separate his leading stars but you do feel McIlroy and Hovland would be an incredibly strong partnership. If Europe did fancy getting some blue on the board early in the foursomes, then McIlroy and Hovland out in match one could be the smart move. But let's wait and see. 

As I was saying in the fourballs, I'd love a bit of Rahm and Hatton, and you know what, I'd send them out in the foursomes too. I think this partnership is a match made in heaven. It would either work amazingly or it would end in tears. I can't quite figure it out yet. But I think the European fans would be all for this, and I think their games also match up well. They both play for the flags and they both give it large out there. 

Other foursomes pairings I think match up well include good friends Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood, albeit Lowry is not in the best of form at the moment. Donald has got a big dilemma there, especially if Lowry's form has not improved in the lead up to the Ryder Cup. But Lowry was picked for a reason so you would imagine he will feature at some stage on Friday. I think Lowry will either tee it up with Fleetwood or perhaps with McIlroy if Donald decides for an all-Irish partnership instead. I like the one of Fleetwood and Lowry though, they know each other well. 

Another decent foursomes pairing for Europe could prove to be Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick. That just screams to me experience and steady golf. I know Fitzpatrick has yet to register a point from two Ryder Cups, but that has to change at Marco Simone. He is a different player these days since his 2022 US Open victory. I can see Rose and Fitzpatrick playing together. They are just two very solid players, seemingly made for a foursomes partnership, but we'll have to wait and see. 

On the US side, as I've already said, Cantlay and Schauffele will more than likely be out in every session. There is not much else to be said on those two, they just know each other's game extremely well. If Europe can take this pairing down then it would be some statement, but you could very easily see them going unbeaten all week given how well they play together. 

Who Brooks Koepka goes out with is anyone's guess in all honesty, but I could see him teeing it up with Rickie Fowler. I know they have a fairly close bond so it would not be a massive surprise. They know each other's game well and it would seem like a comfortable pairing for both of them. Fowler could potentially go out with Spieth or Thomas, but realistically you could stick Rickie out with anyone given just how popular he is among his peers. I like a Fowler and Koepka foursomes pairing though. I think they would be very tough to beat. 

My final two foursomes pairings on the US side, and sorry to be boring, but they would be Scheffler with Burns once more, and also Homa with Morikawa. If these partnerships work well, then I don't see any reason for Johnson to change them. Johnson will likely want to get everyone out there on day one so it will be interesting to see who he partners Brian Harman and Wyndham Clark with. But I think Johnson has ready-made pairings on the table and he has to use them as much as possible. They are certainly the most likely pairings in my mind anyway. 

Ben Smith, News Editor

Fourballs:

Europe

  • Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland
  • Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood
  • Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry
  • Robert MacIntyre and Matthew Fitzpatrick

USA

  • Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele
  • Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth
  • Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka
  • Max Homa and Collin Morikawa

Foursomes:

Europe

  • Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry
  • Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose
  • Robert MacIntyre and Tommy Fleetwood

USA

  • Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns
  • Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas
  • Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka
  • Collin Morikawa and Max Homa

Why have you chosen these pairings?

Fourballs

It's an interesting one isn't it? There are so many different options for each captain. For Europe, the biggest question seems to be who will be playing with Rory McIlroy. I wouldn't be surprised to see Donald alternate McIlroy's partners. It goes without saying that Europe need to get off to a good start: so what better way than to send out your leader and the most in-form player on the planet in Viktor Hovland.

Tommy Fleetwood was a rookie in Paris and his partnership with Francesco Molinari is well-documented. Of course, he's really close with Justin Rose off the course but I think going forward Fleetwood is going to need to take up a more senior role with Ryder Cup Europe. I like the idea of him being paired with Jon Rahm. Rahm is going to attack whereas Fleetwood will just get the ball in play consistently. He could very well be the perfect partner for the Spaniard.

Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry were a bright spark for Europe on an otherwise dismal Saturday for Europe in Whistling Straits. I'd send them out again if I were Donald. 

Even if Robert MacIntyre didn't automatically qualify it seemed clear the Scot was going to be a captain's pick. I feel as though Bob have absolutely no issue with stepping up to the big time. Fitzpatrick doesn't boast a stellar Ryder Cup record. He previously partnered Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood and it could be argued their best days in the Cup were behind them. Fitzpatrick is now a major winner and is hungrier than ever to prove he can mix it with the best of the very best. 

For Team USA, it seems obvious that Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele should be paired together. Likewise Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka seems like a nightmare duo to face whereas you feel that Max Homa and Collin Morikawa will make clutch putts for days. 

Foursomes

As I mentioned I would not be surprised to see McIlroy rotate his partners. Shane Lowry hasn't been in the best form of late and it could be argued he was fortunate to receive a pick. But, as they say, form is temporary. These two are good pals and you'd think Lowry's short game is going to be extremely beneficial in this pairing. 

If Sergio Garcia was involved then he obviously would have been sent out with Jon Rahm. But Garcia is not here and therefore Rahmbo needs a new partner. Viktor Hovland spent the last two weeks of his season obliterating world class fields. Who would want to face these two? 

For Europe I really hope Matthew Fitzpatrick can step up. Nobody works harder. Justin Rose has proven his enduring class this season by stepping back into the winner's circle. Of course, this format requires a couple of Steady Eddies. Rose and Fitzpatrick? Sign me up. 

Donald has made no secret he's a big fan of Robert MacIntyre and I think the Scot will be used in both formats. I like the idea of Tommy Fleetwood partnering this rookie. 

For Team USA Johnson has stated that Sam Burns 'meshing' well with the team was a huge reason why he was picked. He's best buds with Scottie Scheffler and it seems inconceivable these two won't play together. It goes without saying that Rickie Fowler could very well partner one of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth but I like the Rickie/JT pairing in this format. On paper the Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka pairing looks frightening. 

Max Homa has made no secret of his desire to play with Collin Morikawa and it seems reasonable to believe the duo would be just as good in both formats.

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