Ryder Spieth/Thomas

Justin Thomas, left, and Jordan Spieth chat during Tuesday’s practice round at Whistling Straits. Bryson DeChambeau looks on in the background.

HAVEN — If Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were to pair together in both sessions each of the first two days of the 43rd Ryder Cup, it would bring to eight the number of matches the two contemporaries would have played together, surpassing the United States record for most frequent partnership in these biennial matches — a mark Spieth currently shares with Patrick Reed.

Wednesday's Team USA Groupings

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Patrick Cantlay Bryson DeChambeau Daniel Berger
Xander Schauffele Harris English Tony Finau
Jordan Spieth Dustin Johnson Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas Collin Morikawa Scottie Scheffler

Tuesday's Team USA Groupings

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Bryson DeChambeau Patrick Cantlay Daniel Berger
Scottie Scheffler Dustin Johnson Harris English
Jordan Spieth Collin Morikawa Tony Finau
Justin Thomas Xander Schauffele Brooks Koepka

With six rookies in Team USA's lineup, however, Spieth believes the pairings crafted Friday and Saturday at Whistling Straits by U.S. captain Steve Stricker could very well be the start of several long and happy relationships on the youngest American squad since the inaugural Ryder Cup in 1927. 

"It's a wave where, I was talking with Justin about it, we've known everyone on this team since grade school except for Dustin (Johnson) and Tony (Finau)," said Spieth, who could add Harris English to that list of 30-somethings on a team in which the average age is 29 years, 161 days.

"I mean, it's pretty special. So you have a camaraderie. It's kind of more like a really light setting. Guys have known each other for a long time. So I think that statistic ... will probably start to not be the case. I think you'll start to see some pairings that guys find a lot of success in and continue for a number of years given the average age and caliber of players that are on this team."

Time will tell. Stricker will not officially share his pairings with the world until 4:45 p.m. Thursday as part of the opening ceremonies.

However, he reiterated to reporters Tuesday that "we've had a pretty good game plan from a while back, and we're putting that into play." Does that mean what we saw in Tuesday's practice pairings is what we'll get Friday?

If so, which ones will lead things off for the Americans in the alternate-shot format of the morning foursomes format? Which ones will grip it and rip it together in the afternoon four-ball matches designed to be a birdiefest?

After going 3-1 as one of the few bright spots for Team USA in 2018 in a one-sided loss to the Europeans near Paris, Thomas and Spieth figure to get the opportunity to test their staying power of their success three years ago. It should be noted that while Thomas has been a model of consistency since those matches, Spieth went 1,351 days between victories — from the 2017 Open Championship until the 2021 Valero Texas Open — and continues to struggle off the tee, hitting about 53 percent of his fairways.

Therefore, it's quite possible if the Spieth/Thomas pairing were to struggle during the opening session that Stricker would break up one dream team in favor of another — many are pointing to Ryder Cup rookies Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay — that will use the 2021 matches to test their chemistry. 

"I'm receptive for whatever is best for the team," Thomas said. "If it means that Jordan and I play every match together, if it means that we split up, everybody is on board with what is best for the team. And I think that's what is most important."

If Tuesday's pairings were, indeed, the 2021 model of 2008 captain Paul Azinger's acclaimed "pod system," Stricker has plenty of options.

Long-hitting Bryson DeChambeau looks to be paired with Ryder Cup rookie Scottie Scheffler opposite Spieth and Thomas. Cantlay and Schauffele are grouped alongside Dustin Johnson and Morikawa. Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka, who went 1-1 three years ago at Le Golf National, anchor the third pod opposite Ryder Cup rookies Daniel Berger and Harris English.

"That's the thing; yeah, on paper it's pretty easy to just put matches out, we've got these teams, we've got these four teams, we've got these four teams, but things change," Thomas said. "Guys, maybe something happens, maybe they tweak something or they're just not playing good or they're tired or one guy wants to go, whatever it might be.

"Things change. I think that's something that Strick has the ability to do, and he's such a great captain that he's able to adapt on the run."

At this point, though, Stricker sounds like a man with a plan from which he doesn't plan to deviate.

A reporter asked Stricker if he had given thought to playing Scheffler with someone he knows well, say DeChambeau or Spieth (all three call Dallas home). He'd have been better off asking Stricker for the pin number for his ATM card.

"Yeah, that's a great question," Stricker replied. "I guess you're going to have to tune in on (Thursday)  to watch. I'm really not going to go into pairings quite yet with anybody. (Thursday) at the opening ceremony will be a great time to let you know."

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