RC captains keeping mum on pairing plans

KOHLER: Ryder Cup newcomer Viktor Hovland waxed enthusiastic on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) on the possibility of partnering with Rory McIlroy, but European captain Padraig Harrington – like US counterpart Steve Stricker – remained cagey on his precise pairing plans.

Hovland, 24, said he thought he’d mesh well with McIlroy, the four-time major winner who will be playing in his sixth Ryder Cup when Europe launches the defense of the title won in France in 2018.

“I think we’ve got a lot of the same strengths and kind of personality-wise we think a lot alike,” Hovland said. “I’ve grown up in Europe. We play tons of match play and we play tons of foursomes in miscellaneous events.

“I have some experience doing that, and I very much like it. I like to compete with someone and be on a team.”

Hovland practiced on Tuesday alongside veterans McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood at Whistling Straits, where the 43rd Ryder Cup tees off on Friday.

Whether that was an indicator of likely pairings for Friday’s foursomes and four-ball matches remains to be seen, even if Harrington has a pretty good idea of his plans.

“I wouldn’t think a lot is changing in my head and my vice captains’ head between now and Friday, no,” Harrington said, although the big reveal won’t come until Thursday evening, when the opening ceremony arrives and the pairings for Friday are announced.

Foursomes can be the trickiest teams to put together. But US captain Steve Stricker has a couple of proven combinations in the alternate-shot format should he choose to use them.