• Ryder Cup

McDowell expects predictable pairings

ESPN staff
September 25, 2012

The Ryder Cup gets underway at Medinah Country Club on September 28. ESPN will have extensive coverage of the event - including interactive text commentary, reports and reaction - for all three days.

Graeme McDowell believes Europe will put out some predictable pairings over the first days of the Ryder Cup at Medinah.

McDowell, the former US Open champion, is widely expected to be paired with compatriot Rory McIlroy for many, if not all, of the foursomes and fourballs contests that comprise the opening two days of the three-day event in Chicago - with the two Northern Irishmen one of a number of familiar pairings Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal has at his disposal.

Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, along with Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, have also proven successful pairings in the past - and McDowell expects to see those lineups out in force this week.

Eight players are involved in each foursomes and fourball session, meaning four players can be rested at a time - and McDowell believes the candidates to sit out the early matches already know who they are.

"You can pretty much predict our first eight players on Friday morning," said McDowell in his news conference, pointing towards the groupings for Tuesday's practice round as evidence.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how the next three days pan out in practice, but I can tell you that the first four guys [out in practice] are Poulter, Rose, [Lee] Westwood and Donald, and myself and Rory are in the second group with [Paul] Lawrie and Garcia. So there's your eight, the first two groups, fairly predictable."

When asked later about playing with McIlroy, McDowell added: "I'd love to play with Rory, he's the best player in the world right now.

"I'd play with him all four rounds if I could - but there are ten other players on this team that would probably say the same thing."

However, team-mate Peter Hanson disputed McDowell's assessment - suggesting that the European team is very flexible this year and that captain Olazabal could go in a number of different directions with his pairings.

"I think the only thing we know is it's going to be a tough match," Hanson said. "So I think we are just trying to get everybody ready to be ready Friday when it starts, and I think our side is maybe a bit more open this time with the pairings.

"When we played two years ago, maybe it was a bit more obvious who was playing with who. [But now] I think there's a very, very open mindset on the European side of who is going to play with who."

Rose, however, is very eager to play with Poulter again - after missing the competition two years ago at Celtic Manor.

"The Ryder Cup just really gets the juices flowing and brings out the best in him," Rose said of Poulter. "He's an easy partner to play with from that perspective. I think we complement each other well from that perspective.

"Who knows what's going to happen this week, but I can just be myself - which is a little bit more on a level - and he can be the excitable one, and it works quite well."

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