David Howell believes the decision to pair debutant Stephen Gallacher with Ian Poulter during Friday morning's fourball is a masterstroke from Paul McGinley.
Gallacher, who lives just 35 miles away from the Gleneagles course, will get his first taste of the Ryder Cup, is partnered with Poulter who is the one of the most experienced members in the squad.
Poulter was expected to reunite with Justin Rose as a pairing but McGinley decided to split the duo that have won four points out of five when they have played together in the Ryder Cup.
But Howell thinks the 38-year old is the best player to help Gallacher through the experience during their battle with American rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
“There were a couple of surprises,” Howell told Sky Sports while reflecting on McGinley’s pairings.
“I thought Poulter and Rose would go together but there’s going to be a great atmosphere around Stephen and who rises the most to these occasions? It’s Poulter."
Poulter hasn't had the greatest season but given his previous Ryder Cup success rate, will be feared by the U.S side this week. With Poulter lining up against two American debutants, Howell feels that his sheer presence could panic the inexperienced opponents.
"He doesn’t come into this in great form but he just has ‘it’ and always delivers points. You wouldn’t bet against him hitting a great shot down the first, so Stephen is in safe hands.
“Poulter will take control of things and say: ‘Just make contact with the ball’ in the way that Seve Ballesteros did with Jose Maria Olazabal all those years ago," Howell said.
“The press talk about him being like Seve and I think as confident as Reed is as a player I think even he will be intimidated by Poulter in the Ryder Cup environment.”
American captain Tom Watson has taken the morning session to throw three rookies into action with Reed and Spieth being joined by Jimmy Walker. Butch Harmon believes that this decision will help ease the nerves of the trio as they get their first taste of the Ryder Cup.
"Captain Watson’s idea was to get to the rookies out in fourballs and under fire because they will feel more comfortable in that than they would in foursomes,” said Harmon.
“I think it’s better to go that way as you want them to play every ball.
“[Reed and Spieth] are two confident guys who make a lot of birdies so I think it’s a good pairing. It may have surprised some people but it didn’t surprise me.”
Harmon also expressed his excitement at watching the final match in the fourballs which is a mouth-watering battle between Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
Harmon added: “I think McIlroy-Garcia is the best partnership on the European team - one I expected to see and one I expect to see for many years to come.
“They are up against possibly our best partnership in Mickelson and Bradley – they were wonderful at Medinah and delivered three points – and that is going to be a fantastic match.”
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