Wednesday, September 17, 2008

State secrets revealed at Ryder Cup?

During the Wednesday Ryder Cup practice session at Valhalla Golf Club, a television camera zeroed in on a sheet of paper held by European captain Nick Faldo as he talked with his team.

The image showed Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood paired together as were Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson while the other names were listed in no particular order.

It, of course, set of a frenzy of speculation that Faldo's Friday morning pairings, at least the first two, had been discovered. Alert the CIA. Mobillize the Secret Service. Call captain Azinger.

Faldo tried to tap-dance around the issue during his daily press briefing, saying first it was a sandwich list ("who wants tuna, who wants beef, who wants ham") then later said they are pairings for Thursday's final practice session.

Part of the fun in the run-up to the matches is how the captains will pair their players and how the pairings will fall. Unlike the Presidents Cup, where captains are privy to each other's selections, the Ryder Cup pairings are treated like state secrets.

It would be a bigger shock of Faldo doesn't pair Garcia and Westwood together Friday morning than if he does. It's what almost everyone else would do.

Captains like to play coy and may do that with their teams in order to minimize the disappointment to the four players who must sit out during each session prior to singles.

Azinger has been elusive when asked specifics but has made it clear he wants to put Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes together and, if he does, he'll put them out first Friday to start the fun.

He may put Boo Weekley with Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim with Phil Mickelson.

The plan, Azinger said, is for all 12 Americans to play Friday. Faldo said he intends to play all of his players on the first day too. But, Faldo added, the matches start and things change.

That's part of the fun.