As 2020 Ryder Cup captains narrow pairings, they haven t deviated much from their guts - Golf Channel

As 2020 Ryder Cup captains narrow pairings, they haven t deviated much from their guts - Golf Channel
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. Steve Strickers often-repeated goal as U.S. Ryder Cup captain has been to over-prepare, which is exactly what one would expect from the father of two who is steeped in midwestern sensibilities and blue-collar workmanship.

No stone unturned, no surprises, no detail too small. The U.S. team might be outplayed this week,again, but they wont be out-planned and three days of practice with three different winds at Whistling Straits hasnt altered the foundation of that blueprint.

I was pretty set in my mind, Stricker said when asked if his original plan for this weeks pairings remained unchanged. I always had some questions whether it s the right thing or not. I ve done a lot of homework, talked to my assistant captains a bunch, talked to the players a bunch.

In many ways, his European counterpart, Padraig Harrington, is cut from the same sensible mold, so it should be no surprise that he had a similar air of confidence early Wednesday.

My picks are definitely based on the right partnerships, what we would have had in mind but narrowed down now. As we ve got here, narrowed down even further, Harrington said. I wouldn t think a lot is changing in my head and my vice captains head between now and Friday, no.

Theres no bravado in either captain sconfidence. Both have spent three years analyzing and agonizing over potential picks and pairings. If a captain is panicking on Wednesday, their team has already lost.

But the hard work has already been done for both Stricker and Harrington. The picks were selected with specific pairings in mind and there are certainly no surprises at Whistling Straits, which, by Ryder Cup standards, isa straightforward and known commodity.

Will U.S. rookies or European veterans have most impact?

For Stricker, much of that trust in his plan is born from at least two built-in pairings in Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay. Although there are sure to be contingencies to mix and match those players with others, expect the U.S. side to lean heavily on both pairings on Friday.

To round out Stricker sDay 1 foursomes pairings, hecould also turn to Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau, who provided the U.S.a rare highlight three years agoin Paris with a Day 1 fourballs victory and have been paired in practice together this week. And based on the practice pairings, it appears Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa could provide the American team a new-look tandem.

None of this should suggest that either captain is entrenched with pairings or plans. Intractability is as dangerous for a captain as indifference.

Everything looks really good on paper at times, but then you re like, Oh, what if something happens kind of thing. You ve always got to be prepared for the what-ifs. So that s what we re doing, as well, Stricker said.

On this, Harrington might have the upper hand. Having played in six Ryder Cups and served as a vice-captain multiple times, the Irishman has enough institutional knowledge to know the difference between normal preparation and a cause for concern.

Some people play well in practice; some people don t play well in practice. You can t pick guys after three years and expect the practice rounds to determine what goes on on Friday, he said. I m not a great believer in judging people off a couple of relaxed days of practice.
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