India's golfing star Anirban Lahiri has been paired with Thongchai Jaidee for the opening foursomes at the Presidents Cup on Thursday.
At the draw on Wednesday, International Team captain, Nick Price put Lahiri and Thongchai together for his third pairing while the US team captain Jay Haas chose Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker to play against them at the Jack Nicklaus Golf and Country Club. (Lahiri an Asset, Says Captain Nick Price)
Meanwhile, the much-anticipated clash between World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 2 Jason Day will have to wait, as they find themselves against different opponent. Spieth has been paired with the long-hitting Dustin Johnson, and they take on Korea-born Kiwi, Danny Lee and Australian Marc Leishman in the final clash of the first day.
The first match-up will see Adam Scott and Hideko Matsuyama, a tried and tested pair from 2013 Presidents Cup take on twice Masters winner Bubba Watson and the last minute substitute JB Holmes, while South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open winner, pair with Branden Grace against the consistent Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed of the US. (Jack Nicklaus Upbeat About Indian Golf)
As Lahiri-Thongchai take on Fowler and Walker, while Jason Day goes with rookie Steve Bowditch against veteran Phil Mickelson, who has played every Presidents Cup since its inception, and the reigning Open champion Zach Johnson.
The final pairing features in-form Danny Lee and Marc Leishman against Spieth and Dustin Johnson.
Price talking about his reasoning to pair Lahiri and Thongchai said, "Both Anirban and Thongchai play a lot on The European Tour together. So they have played a lot of golf over the last four or five years. It was sort of a pairing that we thought, they are both very good friends, and that was one of the compatible things that we wanted to do. I think both Anirban and Thongchai could play just about anyone on our team."
"But when I mentioned to them that I want them to play together, they were very excited about that. That's what I wanted. I wanted that enthusiasm and I wanted to see that -- I don't know, that feistiness in them. They were really excited about that."
The US team took a lot of time before putting up Fowler-Walker against them. Price said, "Now, I have no idea why they took so long. I think they were just -- I don't know."
Haas, the US skipper smiled and said, "A little drama maybe -- no real reason."
Though Thongchai is way senior to Lahiri, the two have struck a great friendship on Asian and European Tours and will be one of the points that the Internationals will look to winning.
With a lot of fans and media waiting to see if a Spieth-Day clash would happen on first day, Price was asked if he did not want that to happen on first day. Price laughed and said, "There's only so much I can control. I put down -- it was actually Jay's choice, because -- let me see, yeah, Jay put Phil and Zach down."
"I just felt I had a little bit of opportunity there at the end, but I'm not going to put match-ups just because what the media wants, okay, and what the world wants. I'm going to put match-ups there that I feel is best for our team. That's the most important thing. And I don't think it would be fair to the rest of the team for me to single out one person and say, that's who I'm going to play against that person."
The Internationals left out local man, Sangmoon Bae and Charl Schwartzel. Price said Schwartzel had caught a bug (virus) and was down. He said, "I phoned him 20 minutes before I came here, and he's in bed. That was an option that was closed to us when we came in here because I really felt that he probably needs an extra day to get some strength back."
The US team left out Chris Kirk and Bill Haas.
Pairings: (Internationals first):
1. Adam Scott & Hideki Matsuyama vs Bubba Watson & J.B. Holmes.
2. Louis Oosthuizen & Branden Grace vs Matt Kuchar & Patrick Reed.
3. Anirban Lahiri & Thongchai Jaidee vs Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker
4. Jason Day & Steven Bowditch vs Phil Mickelson & Zach Johnson
5. Danny Lee & Marc Leishman vs Jordan Spieth & Dustin Johnson.