McIlroy and McDowell kept apart in practice round

McIlroy did not pair up with McDowell

McIlroy did not pair up with McDowell

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were kept apart on Tuesday as Europe’s players prepared for their first official practice rounds ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

McIlroy and McDowell have been regular partners in team events since 2009, winning three of their four matches in the Seve Trophy and also representing Ireland in the World Cup that year and 2011.

The Northern Irish duo have also played six times together in the Ryder Cup, including the very first match at Medinah two years ago, and would seemingly make an obvious pairing at Gleneagles.

However, European captain Paul McGinley said on Monday that their record of two wins, three losses and one half from those six matches meant they were not a formidable pairing "written in stone", and Tuesday's practice line-up offered hints about possible alternative partnerships.

With the 12-man team split up into four groups of three, McIlroy was alongside Medinah hero Martin Kaymer and Spain's Sergio Garcia, with McDowell alongside France's Victor Dubuisson and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

It was no surprise to see good friends Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the same group with local favourite Stephen Gallacher, with Thomas Bjorn, Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson making up the other threesome. All three played in the Wales Open last week, with Westwood and Donaldson playing together in the first two rounds at Celtic Manor.

Europe were due to practice at 11am with the American team starting at 9:30am and split into three groups of four.

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, who played three matches together at Medinah, were out with Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth, while Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Patrick Reed made up the second group.

Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, who won all three of their matches two years ago, were out with Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.

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