Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were kept apart as Europe’s players prepared for their first official practice rounds ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
McIlroy and McDowell have been regular partners in team events since 2009, winning three of their four matches in the Seve Trophy and also representing Ireland in the World Cup that year and 2011.
The Northern Irish duo have also played six times together in the Ryder Cup, including the very first match at Medinah two years ago, and would seemingly make an obvious pairing at Gleneagles.
However, European captain Paul McGinley said on Monday that their record of two wins, three losses and one half from those six matches meant they were not a formidable pairing “written in stone”.
And yesterday’s practice line-up offered hints about possible alternative partnerships.
With the 12-man team split up into four groups of three, McIlroy was alongside Medinah hero Martin Kaymer and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, with McDowell alongside France’s Victor Dubuisson and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
It was no surprise to see good friends Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the same group with local favourite Stephen Gallacher, with Thomas Bjorn, Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson making up the other threesome.
Meanwhile, If Rickie Fowler intended for his dramatic new haircut to somehow intimidate Europe’s players at the Ryder Cup, the 25-year-old was in for a disappointment.
Fowler arrived at Gleneagles on Monday with the letters USA shaved into the side of his head but as a veteran of eight previous contests, Westwood was not about to be fazed.
“I’ve seen it. I’ve touched it. I gave it a stroke yesterday on the range,” Westwood joked in his pre-event press conference.
Asked if he would adopt something similar, hed added: “I know I’ve got a big head, but I don’t know if it’s big enough to fit ‘Europe’ on it.”