Captains Reveal Fourball Pairings
Woosnam looks for repeat of 2004 as he sends Harrington and Montgomerie out first to topple Woods and new partner Furyk
Steven Franklin, Press Officer
21 September 2006
The watching millions are assured of a mouth-watering start to The 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club following the announcement that the first fourball match out at 8am on Friday will pit Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, the World Number One and Three respectively, against the powerful European partnership of Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Colin Montgomerie of Scotland.
The other pairings for the first morning’s play see England’s Paul Casey team up with Swedish Ryder Cup rookie Robert Karlsson for an intriguing 8.15am match against Stewart Cink and US rookie JJ Henry, while at 8.30am Spaniards Sergio Garcia and José Maria Olazábal take on David Toms and Brett Wetterich, another debutant, and in the final match of the first session, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays with his good friend Lee Westwood of England against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco at 8.45am.
In deciding to pair Harrington and Montgomerie together in the opening match for the second Ryder Cup running, Ian Woosnam is hoping for a repeat of Oakland Hills two years ago when the Celtic duo registered a magnificent 2 & 1 victory over Phil Mickelson and Woods to set the tone for the rest of the competition.
Woosnam commented: “I thought the United States were going to come out as strong as they possibly could, and I expected Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to be off first, and I had an inkling that Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco would be off last. So with Padraig and Colin off first, and Darren and Lee off last, I think that’s going to be two fantastic fourballs.”
Clarke and Westwood are teaming up together for a third Ryder Cup and given their record of four wins from six matches, United States Captain Tom Lehman could be forgiven for not welcoming the sight of them in tandem again. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
“I think there’s something very special about friendships, and I think especially this week, being out with a close friend is probably especially important for Darren,” explained Lehman.
“I’ve been very moved by the reception that he has been given. I knew he would be received so warmly, but it’s been I'm not even sure what the right word is – but it’s been gratifying. I think it’s so emotional to see the way he's been embraced by everybody here, and I think that’s wonderful.”
While Woosnam looks to reap the benefits of continuity and familiarity, Woods faces playing with his 11th different partner in Ryder Cup competition after Lehman made the expected decision of naming Furyk alongside the world’s best player. However, the two Americans have proved in the President’s Cup that their games are well suited together.
However, Lehman revealed that his search for continuity stretched beyond simple pairings and took a historical context.
“I spent a lot of time over the last few months just looking over the results of the previous Ryder Cups going all the way back to the '70s, just to kind of see if there’s a consistent pattern in the pairings. Is it, you know, the best team out first or do they put them in the middle? I found that there is a pattern: a lot of captains have done it very similar ways and a lot of captains have done it differently, and there seems to be a pattern.
“I think it’s no surprise to me to see Harrington and Montgomerie in that first group,” added Lehman.
While the first and last European pairings were widely expected, Woosnam surprised some with his decision to send Casey, who won his fourball with David Howell in 2004, out with Karlsson.
“I decided last night on that pairing,” explained the Welshman, “and that’s why they went out together today to give them a chance to play together. Casey has just won the World Match Play and Robert is playing exceptionally well.
“They are not necessarily the same in personality but they are alike in the way they play. The both hit the ball extremely long, and are very similar off the par threes. They hit the same club and hit the same shots into the green, and I think that’s what made me go for that pairing.”
Given that the Palmer Course is expected to play much longer due to the recent heavy rain, the partnerships of Casey-Karlsson and Toms-Wetterich appeared to be founded to some extent on their long hitting.
Henry is a big hitter also and, according to Lehman, struck up an immediate connection with Cink. A Texan by birth, Henry is used to playing in the wind which could prove useful against Casey and Karlsson tomorrow if the erratic weather continues.
Another two with an undoubted connection are the two Spaniards, Garcia and Olazábal, a partnership which is making its Ryder Cup debut but one which Woosnam hopes will develop into the irresistible force that was Seve Ballesteros and Olazábal in The Ryder Cup.
“What amazes me about them is they have both got this love of match play and such spirit,” added Woosnam.
Day One - Fourball Pairings
Match 1 – 8.00am
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk v Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie
Match 2 – 8.15am
Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry v Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson
Match 3 – 8.30am
David Toms and Brett Wetterich v Sergio Garcia and José Maria Olazábal
Match 4 – 8.45am
Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco v Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood
Sunday Video Recap
Check out all the great highlights from Sunday's European victory. Watch
- 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.