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Friday Ryder Cup foursome matches announced; Tiger and Stricker paired again

By Shane Bacon | Blogger
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker will try to improve on their 2-1-0 record from 2010 . (AP)

The Ryder Cup kicks off on Friday morning with foursomes leading the way, and with it four matches pitting eight Americans against eight Europeans. Captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III announced their morning teams on Thursday evening at Medinah and we investigated who we think gets the nod during the first session of the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Match #1 - Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell -- The two captain's picks from Love are going up against one of the toughest twosomes the Europeans can throw out there in the first match of this 2012 Ryder Cup. McDowell and McIlroy went 1-1-1 in 2010 paired together, and with the way Rory is playing, you'd have to give the nod here to the Euros on paper. That said, it appears Love wanted to get Furyk out there as early as possible to get his mojo going, and Rory's hotness on the golf course could only be matched right now by Snedeker, who is coming off the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship titles. It should be an interesting start to the week, but I give this one to the Euros.

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Match #2 - Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley vs. Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia -- Keegan and Phil sure wanted to play together but it's going to be a tough road to start for the left-hander and the Ryder Cup rookie. Donald and Garcia have played together four times at Ryder Cups and have never lost, going 4-0-0 as teammates. The one thing the Americans have going for them is that Donald hasn't been playing his best golf coming into Medinah, but if there is one player on the European side that will be able to match Bradley's excitement in this opening match, it's Sergio, who missed the Ryder Cup in 2012. I think this is another point for the Europeans early in foursomes.

Match #3 - Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson vs. Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari -- A team we thought we might see from Love, Dufner (the third rookie in a row on Friday) and Johnson are one of those steady American teams that normally do a lot better than you think. Westwood's 16-11-6 record is solid, but the guy is a beast in foursomes, going 7-2-4 in his career. The good thing for the U.S. squad is that these two have never played together and Molinari struggled two years ago, so while the experience sways with the Euros, I think a half a point will come for both sides.

Match #4 - Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods vs. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose -- I like to call this last match the juggernaut grouping, with the most veteran and solid group for the Americans going up against two Englishman with some solid Ryder experience and also something to prove. At Valhalla, Poulter and Rose went 2-1-0, beating Stricker when he was paired with Ben Curtis, but the Woods-Stricker duo got their revenge on Poulter when they beat him and Ross Fisher in the opening match in 2010. Rose wasn't on the European team at Celtic Manor, so this will be a reunion of sorts for both this Europeans. Still, I think Stricker and Woods are too good here, and leave with the lone full point for the Americans in the morning matches.

Morning predictions - Europeans 2.5, USA 1.5

Americans sitting out the opening sessions -- Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar.

Europeans sitting out the opening sessions -- Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer, Peter Hanson and Nicolas Colsaerts.

 
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