Tiger Woods, like every other player in the opening session, now must play in all five sessions, whether that was the original plan or not. (Getty Images)

Change in order of play presents huge ramifications for captains and players

The alteration in the order of play for Saturday and Sunday is huge, says Steve Eubanks. Some players will play more than their captains had planned, he notes, and some will be in pairings no one anticipated.

By Steve Eubanks, Special to

NEWPORT, Wales -- In a reasoned attempt to finish the Ryder Cup as close to Sunday afternoon as possible, the two captains and officials of the European PGA Tour and the PGA of America have decided to compress the next two sessions.

Rather than send out four foursomes matches in Session Two and four ball matches in Session Three, all 12 players on each team will play in each of the final three sessions. As soon as the opening fourball session concludes (some time Saturday morning), the next session will be six foursome matches instead of four. That will be followed by two more foursome matches (for a grand total of eight) going out at the same time as four more fourball matches.

Once all of that is complete (very likely sometime Sunday morning), the 12 singles will begin. 

“I'm pleased that the solution was thought of by very smart people, other than myself, because I'm not a smart person,” U.S. Captain Pavin said. “So I was glad it was done.  I think it's going to be great. ” 

It is also a huge change. Captains can no longer hide a player who might struggle in foursomes, and those players who still have matches to finish from rain-delayed Friday will now play in every session no matter how they feel.  There is also the possibility that players who didn’t plan to play together will get paired in at least one match. 

Captain Montgomerie, for one, is thrilled. “I think this new timetable is very, very good,” Monty said. “I think it gives opportunity for everybody to play golf, especially me in my position of where it was very difficult to get my team right down to 12, if not right down to eight, and now I don't have to. I can leave it at 12.  Everybody plays.  We have 28 matches.”  

Conventional wisdom would say that Europe’s knowledge of the golf course and ability to hit fairways will give it an edge with all players on the course. But the Americans are historically better foursomes players, even though Monty said, “I have more, to be honest with you, I think I have more of a foursomes team than a fourball team.”

But the biggest advantage the Americans have is their ability to change on the fly. The U.S. Team has been adapting since they arrived. They have adapted to a different time zone, different weather, a hostile crowd, and leaky rain suits. This will be viewed by Team USA as just another adaptation. 

The visiting squad is always having to adjust to strange and different circumstances. This will be no different.

Advantage: USA 

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