The European Ryder Cup team practiced in a foursomes format Thursday, and there were some interesting partnerships.
The European Ryder Cup team practiced in a foursomes format on Thursday and there were some interesting partnerships walking around Hazeltine National.
Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia played together three times in 2014, amassing a 1-1-1 record.
But they were not teamed together Thursday and it appeared captain Darren Clarke sent out his optimal teams so the players could get a feel for each other and set up the ideal situations for when the tournament starts on Friday.
Instead of the familiar pairing, McIlroy was with Ryder Cup rookie Andy Sullivan. The two were alternating shots, while strategising where to place tee shots.
The duo would make an interesting duo, because McIlroy is a long hitter and Sullivan is a good putter.
However, Sullivan does not play in the States very often, so these quick, sloping greens could be an adjustment for him.
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose played alongside McIlroy and Sullivan. There was no surprise there, as the Stenson-Rose pairing went 3-0-0 two years ago at Gleneagles. There was some concern about Stenson's ailing knee heading into the week, but he looks healthy and ready to battle.
The next grouping shed some light on whom Clarke views as his possible top-4 pairings. Garcia, who many expected to play with McIlroy, was paired with Martin Kaymer, and Englishmen Danny Willett and Lee Westwood rounded out the foursome.
Willett and Westwood have played together nearly every practice round thus far. They could see a lot of matches together as the weekend progresses.
Kaymer and Garcia is a new tandem but an intriguing one. Both have positive Ryder Cup records, and they have been in form throughout the season. Garcia is a great wedge player around the greens - an area where Kaymer struggles - and Kaymer is a much better putter.
"Well, I think when it comes down to pairings, obviously you want to be paired with a nice player, but I think we are all good players here. So that's a given," Garcia said Tuesday.
"But I think at the end of the day, one of the most important things is to get along really, really well with your partner; to be behind him at every single point of the game. It doesn't matter if he's playing well, bad or so-so.
"Personally for me, I look at the European Team and I couldn't tell you a guy that I wouldn't be comfortable or happy playing with. I think that kind of says it all."
Expect both teams to mix and match pairings, but it appears the Europeans have formulated an idea of whom they want playing together.