PARIS (Reuters) - Jim Furyk stuck with his winning formula when he named the same four partnerships for Saturday morning’s fourball matches at the Ryder Cup, while his European counterpart Thomas Bjorn shuffled the deck.
United States captain Furyk had every reason to continue with what worked, after his team won three matches in the best-ball format at Le Golf National on Friday. Only Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed lost.
Bjorn, meanwhile, benched Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen, replacing them with veterans Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter.
After sitting out on Friday morning, Garcia and Poulter both played very well in winning afternoon foursomes matches — Garcia with Alex Noren and Poulter with Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy was retained for fourballs, despite a poor performance on Friday morning. He did not make a single birdie as he and Olesen slumped to a 4&2 defeat to Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
Bjorn kept two of his partnerships — Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, who won on Friday morning — and Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, who lost.
He slotted Poulter in to accompany Rahm on Saturday, replacing Rose, and put Garcia with McIlroy.
The Europeans lead 5-3 after sweeping the Friday afternoon matches.
Furyk’s decision to go with the same fourball pairings is evidence the Americans had a pre-event game plan, based on a mountain of statistics and input from an analytics firm.
The pairings for the Saturday afternoon alternate-shot foursomes will not be submitted until late in the fourball matches.
Furyk was widely criticised for teaming veteran Phil Mickelson and rookie Bryson DeChambeau in Friday foursomes.
They were thrashed in a poor performance, and whether the captain sticks with them on Saturday afternoon is the big question.
8.10 a.m. (0610 GMT) - Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau (U.S.) v Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia (Europe)
8.25 a.m. (0625 GMT) - Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson (U.S.) v Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton (Europe)
8.40 a.m. (0640 GMT) - Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods (U.S.) v Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood (Europe)
8.55 a.m. (0655 GMT) - Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (U.S.) v Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm (Europe)
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Kevin Liffey