The stage is set, the pairings are set, and now there are only 150 handcrafted lineups left. This article focuses on the opening matches, pairings, and what’s to come in the subsequent matches.
PGA DFS: Ryder Cup Picks and Breakdown
Ryder Cup opening foursome
Match 1: Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas vs. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia
Game 2: Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson versus Viktor Hovland and Paul Casey
Game 3: Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood
Game 4: Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele vs. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter
Much of the anecdotal information available prior to the announcement of the groups turned out to be quite valid. The US teams were largely determined on Tuesday, and everyone is connected. Let’s take a look at the games that will be played this weekend.
Spieth / Thomas and Cantlay / Schauffele were the two sure bets that should be paired together. If they are not beaten up in the first two games, they will be played first and last in each session. It reinforces the strategy of getting all four of those golfers into the lineup.
Captain Harrington plays the country map on the European side despite saying he wouldn’t and has brought Rahm and Garcia together. It’s an interesting pairing, especially with the poor putter Garcia, who is ruined in four-ball format but is at the forefront in the four. A bad putting round for Garcia in Round 1 likely means he would sit for the second four-a-side on Friday. Spieth, Thomas and Rahm will play all four team games, while Garcia will likely play at least one four-ball and could play the second four-game by the time he puts in the first game.
Score and strategy
Spieth and Thomas will give it to the Spaniards, with Garcia’s focus moving into focus. If this result is true, it will be interesting to see if Shane Lowry receives the call to team up with Rahm in the following matches.
Opposing styles of play will come together for Johnson and Morikawa as the latter will use his elite iron game to propel the team forward and bring Johnson close to the hole where he can use his hot putter. On the other hand, Hovland and Casey make a very impressive duo. Both are great forwards and bad putters, and the hope is that Casey will do a lot of green-related work. With Casey’s back problems this year and career, he’s unlikely to play all five games. So Tommy Fleetwood should join Hovland for the afternoon four-ball session and keep a strong second team.
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Score and strategy
Putting again will hurt the euro, but if Morikawa’s irons are not on point, it will go bad. A halved game seems the most likely outcome given the teams. Morikawa and Johnson will be seated, and in their place will be the team from Finau and English.
In a seemingly disposable game from Europe, Westwood and Fitzpatrick were ranked two of the lowest three golfers on that roster by the DFS quota and salary makers, with only Bernd Wiesberger guessed to get fewer points. It’s an interesting strategy to have such a weak team as Captain Harrington gives his three stallions – Rahm, McIlroy and Hovland – a stronger player who makes three formidable teams.
Koepka and Berger were teammates in college and still play a lot of golf together. They are booked out for Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler. A good start from them will bring the same pairing on Friday morning and possibly a spot for one of them in four ball Friday afternoon when Scheffler and DeChambeau bomb.
Score and strategy
The safest matchups are always much more difficult to win in the end than it looks on paper. Still, Koepka and Berger shouldn’t have to go past hole 15 to close the euros here. When that happens, one of these guys is playing fourball instead of Friday Harris English to combine with Finau. Given the history Koepka has with Finau playing together, he likely will be.
This is a crucial game for the European Championship as it is likely that the dynamic duo of Poulter and McIlroy will have to win this to get the only whole point from the morning games. The best match could be provided by the anchor teams for the morning wave, as both teams have achieved great success in cup formats in the past.
Score and strategy
There will also be a half-time in this game, with the US going 2-0-2. A few anecdotal notes from the press conference would suggest that all 12 European players will play in Round 1. That makes the thing interesting what Padraig Harrington is going to do with Poulter here. One of either Garcia or Poulter will be seated for the afternoon wave, and whoever sits, Wiesberger will have his seat.
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Expected afternoon mating
Here are the best guesses what the pairings will look like for each team.
- Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas
- Harris English and Tony Finau
- Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler
- Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele
- Jon Rahm and Bernd Wiesberger
- Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood
- Shane Lowry and Tyrell Hatton
- Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter
Updated PGA DFS projections and ownership
Some of the early leanings were reinforced after hearing the pairings in the opening round. The seven golfers who will play all four team matches are:
- Jon Rahm
- Justin thomas
- Rory McIlroy
- Patrick Cantlay
- Jordan Spieth
- Xander Schauffele
- Viktor Hovland
It just so happens that they are the top seven golfers rated by DraftKings. That will make it difficult to line up six golfers to play in all of the matches. The strategy is to form a line-up with four of them, one as the captain and two other golfers, who play in teams of three and win their individual match. As a result, the predictions of who will play four games have been updated, ownership structure to reflect a higher percentage from Koepka and Berger, and a few other comments. Would you like to make your own forecasts for this week? Visit our projection page for a link on how to do just that.
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