Well, we roll into Presidents Cup week, the bi-annual version of the Ryder Cup where we substitute the European players for the International players and add an extra day.
The conversations center on pairings; which players are going to be teamed together in the foursomes (alternate shot) matches and which are going to paired together in four ball (best ball) matches. Conventional wisdom is that in alternate shot, you pair similar players to get consistency from shot to shot. In best ball, you pair the short and straight guys with the bombers. The short and straight guy’s job is to keep his ball in play, assure pars and go for birdies when it makes sense so that the bomber can play his driver and wedge game.
But despite the fact that this is a team event, the principle conversations are about who’s going to play with Tiger. It’s key because it hasn’t always been easy to play with Tiger. But over time in both the Presidents and the Ryder Cup, it turns out that the perfect magic elixir for Tiger has become Steve Stricker, the mild mannered reporter for the spirit of Wisconson.
And there have also been successful pairings with Jim Furyk. And now conversations about pairing Dustin Johnson with Tiger. There was a video glimpse of Johnson and Woods playing a practice round together.
Here were the pairings for yesterday’s practice rounds. You can’t know for sure that there was any input from Captain Fred Couples over how these guys ended up in a particular group, but given who was in which group, you’d have to think that there was:
Group #1 – Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Matt Kuchar
Group #2 – Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan
Group #3 – Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Bill Haas
So even though this is a team event, Tiger continues to be the main topic of conversation. Former Tour player turned writer, John Maginnes, writes very thoughtful articles from everything I’ve seen. So I’ll give him the final word with his article in GolfWeek.