Olazabal aims for an early Euro charge at Ryder Cup

Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal stands on the 18th tee during a practice round for the 39th...

Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal stands on the 18th tee during a practice round for the 39th Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., Sept. 27, 2012. (MIKE BLAKE/Reuters)

TIM McKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

CHICAGO - After all the predictions, the rhetoric and the analysis, it became clear Thursday at Medinah that the Ryder Cup captains would let their personalities affect their game plans.

Fiery Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal is charging from the gates as he opens Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup, while laid-back southern gentleman Davis Love III is not trying to match fire with fire but sticking to a "feel" approach with his squad.

It's a stark contrast.

Olazabal is putting out world No. 1 Rory McIlroy first, while Love is choosing to have world No. 2 Tiger Woods bring up the rear in the morning session Friday.

"I wanted to have the strongest foursome pairings out for the first session," Olazabal said. "We are not hiding anything. We are not second-guessing here. We are just going out to try to win points. Period. That's it."

Love was playing up the fact he didn't know what he was going to do right up until he submitted his sealed envelope Thursday, while you got the impression Olazabal always was going to put his best foot forward in an attempt to jump on the Americans early.

"I didn't know what I was going to do (Thursday)," Love said after announcing his picks. "It's just this is the best four we felt like to start us off."

Love is going with three Ryder Cup rookies -- Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner -- among his opening eight, while Olazabal is sticking with the tried and true, leaving his only rookie, Nicolas Colsaerts, on the bench for the morning.

It's tough to argue Olazabal's opening eight, with Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia following the opening combo of McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari will go third, with Ian Poulter and Justin Rose bringing it in.

One reporter tried to suggest Molinari was the only surprising pick for the Europeans, but Olazabal quickly shot down the notion.

"Really?" he replied. "It might surprise you, but when you look at Francesco's game, he's a steady player ... and that's pretty much what you look for in foursomes."

Love was going more for chemistry with his selections, outside the obvious Woods-Steve Stricker pairing. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley are buddies and they're out second, but some were surprised at the Jim Furyk-Snedeker opening salvo.

"Order-wise, there was not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to it," Love said, "except maybe pace of play. We wanted to get Brandt going. Brandt likes to get out there and get after it. Brandt was a good one to lead off.

"Obviously, Phil and Keegan are a little bit excited to be playing (together), too, so get them going," Love said. "And then we've got some pretty cool customers at the end who can handle whatever happens in the last two matches."

While it was pretty predictable that the Europeans would have their big boys out early, Love's attempts at trying to finesse his squad meant he had to let a couple of his big players ride the pine in the morning.

"We are excited about our four teams we are sending out there," he said. "We had a tough decision and it wasn't who to send out, it was who to sit down.

"I had to talk to four of my guys -- including his two long hitters, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson -- and somehow come up with a rational explanation of why they weren't going to play (in the morning)."

They may have different styles as captains and the next three days will show what approach will win the day, but both men agreed yesterday that it's time for matches to play out on the course instead of a chess game on paper.

"We are just excited we are going to play some golf," Love said. "This has been an exciting week so far, it has been a busy week so far. They are primed and ready, for sure."

About the only thing worth mentioning from Justin Timberlake's contribution in the opening ceremony on Thursday were his final words.

"Let's get it on!"

FIRST RYDER CUP PAIRINGS

Friday morning pairings (all times EST)

Alternate-shot Foursomes

8:20 a.m.

Europe: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
U.S.: Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

8:35 a.m.

Europe: Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia
U.S.: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley

8:50 a.m.

Europe: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari
U.S.: Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson

9:05 a.m.

Europe: Ian Poulter and Justin Rose
U.S.: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods

Sitting Out

Europe: Peter Hanson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer
U.S.: Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca


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