By Mitch Phillips
PARIS (Reuters) – American captain Jim Furyk has poured cold water on the idea that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could play together in the Ryder Cup this week after the two players got tongues wagging on Tuesday by suggesting it could happen.
Asked on Wednesday about the chances of pairing his two hyper-experienced wild-cards, Furyk said: “You know, I won’t ever say it wouldn’t happen, but it’s probably not too likely.
“I guess nothing’s out of the realm. They did play some golf yesterday. I think they both mentioned it would be a lot better pairing than it was in the past.”
It could hardly not be since they lost both matches in 2004 when they paired up for the only time.
On Tuesday Mickelson said of the prospect of a re-run: “I think we would both welcome it.”
A day later, however, he was accompanied on his practice round by Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Bryson Dechambeau, the rookie looking his most likely partner.
Woods was out with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Both captains will name their Friday morning pairings at Thursday’s opening ceremony and Furyk gave some insight into the thinking behind his selections.
“One of the tasks for every captain and the vice captains is really trying to figure out not only your best pairing but how you get your best four or your best five, your best six,” he said.
“How do you work together and make a strength and depth of strength throughout your team so you feel like at each session you have four great groups out on the course?”
Furyk said he tended to put more weight on personality than style of play.
“I wouldn’t say that anybody could be with anybody, on both sides,” he said. “It’s not that guys don’t get along, it could be personalities. Rarely do you see two really fiery guys paired together or two real stoned guys together.
“Bernhard Langer, one of my favourite guys, he’s even keel so you pair him with a guy that’s feisty, a Seve (Ballesteros), and you kind of get the ham-and-egg effect.
“We have the analytics team in place and they have opinions on why guys match up well together from a statistics standpoint. But we really need to understand the personality side and how guys mesh together and why that happens.
“I think it’s a combination of both, but I’ve got a lot of experience on my side with our vice captains. There’s a lot of feel that goes into it as well and I really trust and believe in their opinions.”
(Editing by Richard Balmforth)