McIlroy, McDowell practice in separate groups ahead of Ryder Cup

For a while now there has been storied tension between once good friends Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, with many wondering if the pair will work together this week when the Ryder Cup proper kicks off.

And it seems that the answer could very well be no, with Captain Paul McGinley placing the two golfers in separate practice groups as the team prepares for Gleneagles.

The alleged feud between the Northern Irish pair stems from McIlroy being involved in an ugly and ongoing court case with his former management company – the same company that currently has McDowell on its books. McGinley, however, has worked to play down the claims of bad blood and says his motivations to keep the two separated is purely tactical.

"Both of them have assured me all along that there are no issues and that's the way I've always seen it," McGinley said. "Whether they come together or not is another story.

"Three or four months ago, I had a very strong view that they would have been, but the more I look at their statistics and the more I look at the different value I have with them, I'm thinking there may be value in not doing it.

"If I don't decide to play them, it would be for tactical reasons. They have played six Ryder Cup matches and they have only won two together (losing three and halving one). It's not like these guys are written in stone. They are not a formidable fourball pairing that's unbeatable (both wins have come in foursomes)."

McIlroy and McDowell finished runners-up in the World Cup in 2009 and they have a good record playing together in the Seve Trophy. But in their six outings together in the Ryder Cup, they’ve only managed 2 ½ points.

It doesn’t make for great reading, so there’s definitely sense to McGinley, who will oversee the first round of practice from 11am, keeps McIlroy and McDowell paired with other players. McIlroy will head out today in the first group, making up a three-ball alongside Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia.

McDowell goes out in the final group with Henrik Stenson and Ryder Cup rookie Victor Dubuisson.

The middle groupings sees Stephen Gallacher go out with experienced pair Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, while Jamie Donaldson groups with Thomas Bjorn and Lee Westwood.

Team USA prepares

Meanwhile, Tom Watson has been busy setting his USA team up as they prepare for a battle to reclaim the Ryder Cup trophy. He’s opted to send his team out in three fourballs, starting with Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson at around 9:30am. Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson and Patrick Reed head out in the second group.

Phil Mickelson goes out in the final group with Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley and Jimmy Walker.

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