Ryder Cup: Friday four-ball afternoon matches

Europe's Rory McIlroy reacts after chipping in on the fourth hole during a foursomes match at the Ryder Cup Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.

MEDINAH, Ill. -- A look at the afternoon four-ball matches between the U.S. and Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

With both lineups set, each of the 12 players on both squads will see time on Friday.

• • •

Match #1: Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson vs. Paul Lawrie-Peter Hanson

Bubba Watson

Age: 33

Years Played: 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 1-3-0

Fourballs (W-L-H): 1-1-0

The skinny: Long hitters are supposed to thrive at Medinah. Watson, the Masters champion, is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Tour Championship. Look for Watson and Webb Simpson to be paired together at some point this week.

Webb Simpson

Age: 27

Years Played: First appearance

The skinny: It’s been a busy year for Simpson, who won his first major and celebrated the birth of his second child. This is his first Ryder Cup, but he went 3-2-0 at last year’s Presidents Cup, good preparation for this week. Simpson finished fifth at last week’s Tour Championship, including a final-round 66. It was his first top-10 since early July and best finish since his U.S. Open victory.

Paul Lawrie

Age: 43

Years Played: 1999

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 3-1-1

Fourballs (W-L-H): 1-0-1

The skinny: Lawrie is making his first appearance since 1999, the year he won the Open Championship. He’s experienced a career resurgence, winning three times in the past two years, including at the recent Johnnie Walker Championship.

Peter Hanson

Age: 34

Years Played: 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 1-2-0

Fourballs (W-L-H): 1-0-0

The skinny: Remember this year’s Masters, when Hanson was the 54-hole leader? You may have forgotten that Hanson also played in the 2010 Ryder Cup. The Swede gets overlooked by Europe’s flashier personalities, but he’s a solid player, ranking 25th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Hanson won in his last start, at the KLM Open.

• • •

Match #2: Phil Mickelson-Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy-Graeme McDowell

Phil Mickelson

Age: 42

Years Played: 1995-97-99-2002-04-06-08-10

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 11-17-6

Fourballs (W-L-H): 5-8-2

The skinny: Mickelson seems to have found something with this “claw” grip, posting two top-5 finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs. And no one will like Medinah’s lack of rough more than Mickelson. Mickelson was 3-1-0 in last year’s Presidents Cup. One would think he’ll be paired with good friend Keegan Bradley at some point this week.

Keegan Bradley

Age: 26

Years Played: First appearance

Finish at 1999 PGA: N/A

Finish at 2006 PGA: N/A

The skinny: Bradley, No. 11 on the PGA Tour in total driving, is well-suited for Medinah’s big ballpark. He’s a rookie, but as he’s showed several times in his brief career, he handles the nerves well.

Rory McIlroy

Age: 23

Years Played: 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 1-1-2

Fourballs (W-L-H): 0-0-1

The skinny: McIlroy is the European player since 1993 to arrive at the Ryder Cup as the world’s top-ranked player. He’s coming off his impressive FedEx Cup playoffs, where he shot 40 under par over two weeks to claim the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship. He was 10th at last week’s Tour Championship after a 4-over 74 in the final round.

Graeme McDowell

Age: 33

Years Played: 2008, 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 4-2-2

Fourballs (W-L-H): 1-1-1

The skinny: The 2010 U.S. Open champion secured Europe’s winning point last time around. Look for him to be Rory McIlroy’s frequent partner this week. They played three sessions together in 2010, going 1-1-1.

• • •

Match #3: Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar vs. Justin Rose-Martin Kaymer

Dustin Johnson

Age: 28

Years Played: 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 1-3-0

Fourballs (W-L-H): 0-2-0

The skinny: There’s big expectations for Johnson this week. He’s coming off a successful FedEx Cup, finishing in the top-10 in all four events. Medinah’s length and lack of rough should allow him to let loose with the driver, as well.

Matt Kuchar

Age: 34

Years Played: 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 1-1-2

Fourballs (W-L-H): 0-0-2

The skinny: Kuchar, the 2012 Players champion, is known as Mr. Consistent. He’s only missed one cut this season. His game, built around a strong short game and putter, is perfect for foursomes, but he’s not in top form. His 10th-place finish in the 30-man Tour Championship was his only top-30 finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He’s also struggled in international competitions, going 1-3-1 in last year’s Presidents Cup as well.

Justin Rose

Age: 32

Years Played: 2008

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 3-1-0

Fourballs (W-L-H): 1-0-0

The skinny: Hard to believe this is just Rose’s second Ryder Cup appearance. The Sean Foley student, the world’s fifth-ranked player, is coming off a runner-up at the Tour Championship. He also was third at the PGA Championship, and collected the biggest win of his career, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, earlier this year. Look for Rose and Poulter to form an all-English duo this week.

Martin Kaymer

Age: 27

Years Played: 2010

Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 2-1-1

Fourballs (W-L-H): 2-0-0

The skinny: It’s been a struggle this year for Kaymer, the former World No. 1 who’s fallen to 32nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. He barely hung on to the final qualifying spot for this European team. He is coming off a fifth-place finish in his last start, at the Italian Open, though.

• • •

Match #4: Tiger Woods-Steve Stricker vs. Lee Westwood-Nicolas Colsaerts

Tiger Woods

Age: 36

Years Played: 1997-99-2002-04-06-10

Fourballs (W-L-H): 5-6-0

The skinny: Woods returns to a course where he’s undefeated as a professional. He was 3-1-0 at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Woods has won three times this season, but also has struggled on the weekend of the biggest tournaments, leading one to wonder how he’ll do at golf’s most pressure-packed week.

Steve Stricker

Age: 45

Years Played: 2008, 2010

Fourballs (W-L-H): 1-1-1

The skinny: Stricker’s flatstick will be an important asset for Team USA this week. He was one of Davis Love’s captain’s picks for good reason: he’s a preferred partner of Tiger Woods. He was 22nd last week in the 30-man Tour Championship, closing with three consecutive 73s. Stricker, a University of Illinois alum, will be a fan favorite this week.

Lee Westwood

Age: 39

Years Played: 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010

Fourballs (W-L-H): 7-4-2

The skinny: Westwood thrives in team play, going a combined 14-6-6 in the two team formats. Perhaps that’s why he was paired with two inexperienced players – Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari – in Wednesday’s practice rounds. Westwood hasn’t been his usual consistent self, though. He followed a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship with a last-place finish at the Tour Championship. Which Westwood will appear this week will be important to the Europeans.

Nicolas Colsaerts

Age: 29

Years played: First appearance

The skinny: The long-bombing rookie has improved from 72nd to 35th in the Official World Golf Ranking this year. He’s in good form, having finished in the top-10 in three of his past four starts, and no worse than 19th in that span.

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