International captain Nick Price named two wholly South African pairings for the opening fourballs in the 2013 Presidents Cup which gets underway at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio on Thursday.
Rookies Branden Grace and Richard Sterne will be last out in a match against Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner, while another rookie, Louis Oosthuizen, will join good friend Charl Schwartzel in taking on the hot United States pairing of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
“The rookies on my team are all very eager to go, and I think there’s some great match-ups there,” said Price ahead of the first hostilities in an event which has been dominated by the US.
For the Internationals, that the match starts with the fourballs as opposed to the traditional foursomes – or alternate shot – is something of a boon, as the old way of doing things often left the players who were relatively inexperienced in team competitions compared to the US players who also have Ryder Cup experience to draw on at something of a disadvantage.
“That was one of the concessions that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made when Ernie Els and I went to see him last year,” said Price. “Both Ernie and I felt it was very important just to change it from the hardest format being an alternate foursomes, to the alternate‑shot foursomes to the better‑ball, so that was a positive move I think; certainly for us it was.
“The start is really important, obviously. There’s six points out tomorrow, and in the past, because of the dynamics of our team and where they all come from, it’s very difficult to put a great foursomes pairing together right from the get‑go,” he added.
The other South African in the team, the veteran Els, has been paired with the other Southern African in the team, rookie Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe.
The full pairings for Day 1 fourballs:
Match 1: Jason Day and Graham DeLaet, International vs. Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker, US
Match 2: Bill Haas and Webb Simpson, US vs. Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, International
Match 3: Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, International vs. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, US
Match 4: Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth, US vs. Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge, International
Match 5: Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman, International vs. Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods, US
Match 6: Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, US vs. Branden Grace and Richard Sterne, International