Woosnam shows Ryder Cup hand

Ian Woosnam gave a first hint of his Ryder Cup thinking on Tuesday morning at the K-Club when he sent out his six pairings for the first fourballs practice session.

Woosnam teamed up veteran Colin Montgomerie with Englishman David Howell in his first group, allying the Scot’s huge experience in the competition with the Englishman’s fine recent form.

The Welshman then followed the nationality card by pairing Swedes Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson together, Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia together, Irishman Paul McGinley with fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington and Englishmen Paul Casey and Luke Donald together.

In the final pairing he brought together again old friends and Ryder Cup partners Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

Local players McGinley and Harrington, in particular, will be a huge draw on the occasion of Ireland hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time. They have played many times together, both in the Ryder Cup and for Ireland in World Cup events.

Casey and Donald enjoy playing with each other, having won the World Cup for England in Mexico in 2003, while Garcia’s pinpoint accuracy off the tee looks ideally suited to Olazabal’s peerless iron play.

Clarke and Westwood have played with each before at Ryder Cups and are close friends. The Ulsterman will draw a big crowd as he continues his return to action following the death from cancer last month of his wife Heather.

No surprises from Lehman

United States skipper Tom Lehman, however, was the first to show his hand on Tuesday morning when he sent out his pairings for the first session of practice.

As expected, he paired top draws Tiger Woods with Jim Furyk and sent out Phil Mickelson with Chris DiMarco.

David Toms was with Chad Campbell while wildcard choices Scott Verplank and Stewart Cink were both given rookies in the shape of Brett Wetterich and JJ Henry.

The two other rookies in the 12-strong US team, Vaughn Taylor and Zach Johnson, played together, but it is unlikely they will be in action on Friday’s opening day of the biennial competition.

Both the US and European teams arrived in Dublin on Monday and have three days of practice at the K-Club, 45km west of the Irish capital, before Friday.

Four fourballs will get things going on Friday morning with four foursomes to follow in the afternoon.
Saturday will see the same format with all 24 players in action on Sunday with the 12 closing singles ties.—AFP

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