Anirban Lahiri will sit out of the first session of the President s Cup as five sets of players from either side will clash in the foursomes — alternate shots — at the Liberty National Golf Club.
Even though the Internationals ran the US team very close and lost by just one point last year, the latter are strong favourites with three of the world’s top four stars in their team.
Though the US have won nine of 11 prior editions of the event, with one tie and just one International victory, in 1998 in Melbourne, International captain Price still felt the one-point defeat two years ago in Incheon, South Korea, was a shot in the arm for players like Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, and Jason Day.
While announcing his pairings, Price said, We took the tough decisions to bench Anirban (Lahiri) and also Adam Hadwin, but they are going to get their shot.
Lahiri even while being slightly disappointed at not going on first day said, “I wanted to go out there — I’m eager. Let’s just put it that way that I’m eager to go out there and perform. But you know, at the end of the day, it’s important to have the dynamics and the whole flow of the team right.”
“There’s a lot of good reasons behind Captain Price’s decisions today about the pairings. We’re going to keep that to ourselves, but obviously I’m going to be looking forward to getting my chance.
Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas will lead the US team out against strong pairing of Hideki Matsuyama and Charl Schwartzel.
In the second group, international team captain Price has paired Australian Adam Scott with Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela against world number one Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
Following them will be the established Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed against rookies Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim.
The fourth group sees South African duo Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace take on US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger and the final clash will be Phil Mickelson, who has played on each of the Presidents Cup teams for US with Kevin Kisner against Jason Day and Marc Leishman.
“I am likely to tee it up on Friday, and I’m just going to come out here tomorrow and prepare best as possible so that when I go out on Friday, I’m 100 percent ready, Lahiri said.
Having played events such as this themselves, captains, Nick Price and Steve Stricker had some ideas about what their rivals could put up.
“I think all of us, our captains, anyway, on our team, we figured we got four out of their five pairings correct. We figured we got a little bit of a jump last year on The Ryder Cup, so we knew who would play with who this week or sort of took a guess at it,” Price said.
“For us, we were lucky because we have eight guys who played in the team in Korea, so we only had four rookies as opposed to Steve having six and I think that helped us a little bit.”
On his pairings, Price said, “Jhonny Vegas and Adam (Scott) hit it off yesterday. I mean, it was great. They played phenomenally well yesterday together, and Adam being the senior member of the team, certainly I needed him to have one of the rookies. And just as Kevin Kisner is going with Phil tomorrow, I think they had the same sort of thought that we had.”
While Lahiri and Adam Hadwin sit out for Internationals, Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman will be on the sidelines for the US team.
Pairings: Foursomes (alternate shots)
Rickie Fowler / Justin Thomas v Hideki Matsuyama/ Charl Schwartzel
Dustin Johnson /Matt Kuchar v Adam Scott /Jhonattan Vegas
Jordan Spieth / Patrick Reed v Si Woo Kim / Emiliano Grillo
Brooks Kopeka / Daniel Berger v L Oosthuizen / Branden Grace
Phil Mickelson / Kevin Kisner v Jason Day / Marc Leishman.