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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Pairings provide chance for Internationals to rally late

Expect fast start from home side

Patrick Reed looks extremely likely to register a day-one point
1 of 1

Story so far

Presidents Cup captains Steve Stricker and Nick Price have announced their pairings for the first set of foursomes matches, with five points available on the first day.

There were no surprises from USA captain Stricker, who appears to have played his cards perfectly, but International chief Price through a couple of surprise partnerships on to the table.

Jhonattan Vegas has been handed a place alongside Adam Scott in match two, while a pair of nervous rookies have been combined in match three. Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim go into battle together against the might of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.

The action starts at 6.05pm UK and Ireland time. A sunny day, with light breezes is forecast for Liberty National, New Jersey.

First-day foursomes line-up

6.05pm Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler versus Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama

6.17pm Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson versus Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott

6.29pm Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth versus Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim

6.41pm Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka versus Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen

6.53pm Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner versus Marc Leishman and Jason Day

Today's advice

Steve Stricker has already done a superb job in his first time as USA captain, his pairings looking spot-on for the opening foursomes.

Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka are both Presidents Cup rookies, so that pairing may have raised some eyebrows, but both attended Florida State University and are based nearby. The Floridian duo is a natural one, and leaving Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman on the sidelines was arguably the best option.

Matches two and three are the ones where the lack of strength in depth in the squad of Nick Price is exposed. He has left Adam Hadwin and Anirban Lahiri out of the opening jousts, leaving the Indian to fester a little longer on the missed putt which essentially meant his side lost the 2015 contest.

Jhonattan Vegas is a weak link alongside Adam Scott in match two, while the pairing of Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim looks extremely vulnerable in match three.

Expect Team USA to go 3-0 up in the Presidents Cup with the minimum off fuss. Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas are good friends and class acts. Fowler will enjoy playing the senior role as Thomas makes his Cup debut. Hideki Matsuyama has been in dismal form since the USPGA and is coming up against a formidable unit.

Vegas and Scott looks a brittle pairing, which should be put to the sword by the well balanced combination of Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson, while match three could be over quickly.

Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, ruthless together in previous team competitions, can be expected to bully the two rookies from the off. It would be one of the biggest shocks in Cup history should Grillo and Kim win this match.

Punters with a Sky Bet account can access a price-boost 9-2 about USA winning the first three matches.

The Internationals' strength comes in the later bouts. Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen won four matches together in the last edition, and they should give Berger and Koepka a decent game in match four.

Jason Day and Marc Leishman is a pairing Price is banking on. He has put two of his strongest players together, desperate to get a point on the board. With Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner two contrasting characters who are not certain to bond, the final match is the one where the Internationals can be most confident.

USA going 3-0 up, then the Internationals reducing the deficit to 3-2, looks the most likely scenario for day one.

Recommendations
USA to win first day 3-2
3pts 100-30 Hills

Thomas & Fowler (4-5), Kuchar & Johnson (4-6),
Reed & Spieth (1-2)

2pts treble Sky Bet

Grace & Oosthuizen (5-4), Day & Leishman (5-6)
1pt double Sky Bet

Expect Team USA to go 3-0 up with the minimum off fuss
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