Montgomerie splits up Northern Ireland stars in final practice

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Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were split up for the final day of Ryder Cup practice at Celtic Manor on Thursday.

McIlroy played with Lee Westwood, Peter Hanson and Miguel Jimenez, while McDowell teed off – from the 11th hole at 10.15am – with Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher and Padraig Harrington.

Together for the third day running, however, were Italian World Cup-winning brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari. They played with Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, who were also partners yesterday.

The Italian brothers are pretty much certainties to start on Friday morning along with McDowell and McIlroy and Europe’s strong line-up sees them at 11/10 favourites to win the Friday fourballs.

The Americans decided to go off in threes rather than fours, but Tiger Woods remained with Steve Stricker – the player with whom he won four points out of four at last year’s Presidents Cup and they can help USA tie the Friday fourballs at 11/4.

Jim Furyk was the other one with them and he was Woods’ partner at The K Club in Ireland four years ago – he is also 16/1 to be the top point scorer in the tournament.

Phil Mickelson stayed with Dustin Johnson and had 21-year-old Rickie Fowler as the third member, while Hunter Mahan played with Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton and last year’s Open champion Stewart Cink was with Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

Corey Pavin’s side were out off the first tee at 8.30am on a day of much better conditions following yesterday’s heavy rain.

Who plays whom in that will be revealed in this afternoon’s opening ceremony, starting at 4pm.

USA are the underdogs and are 11/4 to win Friday mornings fourballs. See the full 2010 Ryder Cup betting odds market here.

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