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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Round 1 Fourball Pairings

An interesting group of pairings for the first matches at the Presidents Cup.
  • Match 1: Marc Leishman/Joaquin Niemann VS
    Justin Thomas/Tiger Woods
  • Match 2: Adam Hadwin/Sungjae Im VS
    Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay
  • Match 3: Adam Scott/Byeong-Hun An VS
    Bryson DeChambeau/Tony Finau
  • Match 4: Hideki Matsuyama/C.T. Pan VS
    Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed
  • Match 5: Abraham Ancer/Louis Oosthuizen VS
    Dustin Johnson/Gary Woodland
The four players sitting it out are Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler for the US, and Haotong Li and Cameron Smith for the Internationals.

No big surprises as far as I can see, although some of the pairings -- unlike Tiger and JT -- may seem counter-intuitive. Here are a few of my random thoughts:
  • An and Im are both South Korean but also rookies; Hadwin has played once before and I suspect the Hadwin/Im pairing has a lot to do with them knowing each other from the PGA Tour. As the most veteran member of the team, Scott makes sense as An's partner.
  • Finau and DeChambeau are both rookies but Tiger knows both well... and let's face it, the US probably doesn't worry about throwing two rookies together because the team has been historically strong. (Same for Schauffele and Cantlay.) Ernie is going to be much more cautious in his initial pairings because one unproductive pairing could put them behind the eight-ball early.
  • Perhaps the most unexpected pairing is Reed and Simpson, but Reed can get a bit wild at times and Simpson should be able to keep them in the hole should that happen.
If I'm surprised by anything, it's the decision to sit Li for the first match. I would really like him as a fourball partner, but I suppose somebody had to sit.

GC's live coverage starts at 5:30pm ET this afternoon. I'll reiterate what I said in yesterday's post -- I think it's a mistake to underestimate the Internationals this time around. Although I expect the US to win, I won't be surprised if we see an upset.

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