McIlroy and McDowell set be paired together at Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal has indicated that the two Irishmen in the team, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, will be paired together when the tournament begins in Chicago on Friday.

World Number One McIlroy and good friend McDowell played all three games together in Wales at the previous tournament and having won all three there Olazabal seems set to stick with the winning formula.

McIlroy and McDowell went out in the second group of four this morning along with Paul Lawrie and Sergio Garcia, another pairing which would delight Lawrie who has been returning to the Ryder Cup fold following an absence.

Rory McIlroy has been in scintillating form this season, producing arguably the best golf of his career and the Holywood golfer will be delighted that his Spanish captain believes a pairing with McDowell will best serve the European team.

McDowell and McIlroy know each other well and are good friends off the course, something which can become vital in the stowed-away competitiveness of team golf.

The two Northern Irishmen have come to the attention of a wider audience at roughly the same time, as McDowell won the 2010 US Open before McIlroy won his first major in 2011 at the same tournament as a feelgood factor buzzed around Irish golf.

Darren Clarke added to the Irish haul with the 2011 British Open to continue the success the Dubliner Padraig Harrington had started a few years earlier with his victory at Carnoustie.

Irish golf has never quite had it so good and Olazabal clearly understands the talismanic partnership the two Antrim men possess as placing both players in the second group today would seem to indicate that McIlroy and McDowell will play alongside one another in the foursomes.

One surprise which came out of this morning’s practice session at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois was that Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald were in separate groups as both men have a fine Ryder Cup record together as a pairing.

As mentioned, Garcia was in the second group with Lawrie, McIlroy and McDowell which left Luke Donald to practice in the group ahead which was made up of himself, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose to form an all English group.

The final group consisted of the remaining continental Europeans as Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson and Belgian debutant Nicolas Colsaerts practiced their game ahead of the big showdown beginning on the 28th September.

Europe gathered on the greens this morning around 7am local time for team photos before they took to the course wearing orange shirts and jumpers coupled with blue trousers.

The European team’s golf bags had an image of the late Seve Ballesteros imprinted on them in a fitting and emotional reminder of the Spaniard’s untimely death earlier this year as Ballesteros was a veteran of nine Ryder Cups including winning as captain of Europe in 1995.

Ryder Cup captain Olazabal had a terrific record – the most successful pairing ever in the history of the tournament – with Ballesteros and the prospect of a first Ryder Cup without Seve watching will be an emotional moment for all of the players and not just Olazabal.


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