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Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 17:02 UK

Faldo goes for national pairings

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Europe get kitted out for title defence

Venue: Valhalla, Kentucky Date: 19-21 September Live TV coverage: Sky Sports Live radio coverage: BBC 5 Live Updates/commentary: Red Button and BBC Sport website Daily highlights: BBC TV/website

European captain Nick Faldo teamed his players in pairings with a national flavour on the second practice day at the Ryder Cup in Valhalla, Kentucky.

Double Open champion Padraig Harrington was with fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell, while Paul Casey paired up with English rookie Oliver Wilson.

The two Swedes, Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, went out together.

Spanish duo Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez were coupled, and so were Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

He's really involving everyone - caddies, wives, partners - and he's very open to any feedback

Rookie Graeme McDowell on Europe captain Nick Faldo

The single exception to the "national" rule saw Englishman Lee Westwood team up with Dane Soren Hansen.

Thursday will be a truncated practice day, before the three-day contest begins on Friday.

After Faldo had kept everyone guessing by opting for groups of three on Tuesday, Wednesday's pairings gave a clearer indication of his planning for the foursomes and fourballs that take up the first two days of the Ryder Cup.

But the six-time major winner may pull the odd rabbit out of the hat on Thursday, and there has been some speculation Casey will ultimately team up with Harrington.

In another entertaining press conference, Faldo played down suggestions that cameras had discovered his list of pairings by zooming in on a piece if paper he was holding, insisting: "It was the lunch list, sandwich requests. I was finding out who wants the tuna."

Meanwhile, Casey said: "I would love to play with Padraig and I think it would be a good pairing, but I would play with any of the guys.

"I know guys have been sort of batting around ideas, but any time you can play with a double major champion from one year that would be very, very nice."

McDowell said the players were warming to Faldo's leadership.

"He was one of my heroes and he's got a lot to give." said the 29-year-old rookie, ranked number 32 in the world.

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"He's got a lot of stuff in his head and he's been thinking about it long and hard and has had a lot of time to digest this golf course and think about his pairings, think about his team.

"He's really involving everyone - caddies, wives, partners - everyone is a part of this whole experience and he's very open to any feedback."

American captain Paul Azinger was in relaxed mood as regards his choices for Friday's opening matches.

"Yeah, there's a pattern developing," he said. "I mean, common sense would tell you that.

"To tell you the truth I honestly wrote down pairings before I even picked my four players. I already had an idea how I wanted to fill out my team.

"I've got the first day's pairings down, but they're subject to change."

Rookie Ben Curtis has been getting to grips with the foursomes format, which will open the three-day contest on Friday.

The 2003 Open champion had never played the alternate shot system before and was given a taste when captain Paul Azinger paired him with Steve Stricker against Chad Campbell and Stewart Cink in practice.

"We played nine holes on the front nine," Curtis said.

"I think it's hard to get into a rhythm. I could see where that could be an issue, just because you hit one drive and then you may not hit until the second shot on the next hole.

"So it could be you could go a half hour without swinging a golf club."

Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson
Rookie Kim was shown the way by Mickelson in Wednesday's practice
Curtis, 31, also believes there is potential for trouble on the greens.

"It's something everybody has to deal with - not just us, but the Europeans do as well."

Azinger stayed with the same playing groups for the second day of practice.

He sent out Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley with Kentucky favourites Kenny Perry and JB Holmes once again.

The second group out saw Cink paired with Stricker while Curtis played with Campbell, Cink having partnered Campbell 24 hours earlier alongside Curtis and Stricker.

The final group also saw the same quartet together, albeit mixed up from Tuesday, with world number two Phil Mickelson switching from a pairing with Justin Leonard to accompany rookie Anthony Kim and Leonard partnering another first-timer - Hunter Mahan.


Ryder Cup Day two practice pairings - Wednesday

Europe
Sergio Garcia/Miguel Angel Jimenez & Padraig Harrington/Graeme McDowell
Paul Casey/Oliver Wilson & Lee Westwood/Soren Hansen
Henrik Stenson/Robert Karlsson & Ian Poulter/Justin Rose

United States
Jim Furyk/Kenny Perry & JB Holmes/Boo Weekley
Stewart Cink/Steve Stricker & Ben Curtis/Chad Campbell
Phil Mickelson/Anthony Kim & Justin Leonard/Hunter Mahan


see also
Ryder Cup practice photos
16 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup explained
16 Sep 08 |  Golf


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
CNN Faldo 'lunch list' fuels media feeding frenzy - 1 hr ago
Boston GlobeFaldo a picture of frustration over lineup photo - 1 hr ago
San Francisco Chronicle A True Team Player - 2 hrs ago
Telegraph Faldo slip hands US Ryder Cup initiative - 2 hrs ago
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