The golden couple: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson set to open Ryder Cup against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed
Europe’s Olympic pairing will face Americans Spieth and Reed in the opening foursomes match, a showdown of two unbeaten duos from the 2014 event
Europe’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson will face Americans Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in Friday’s opening Ryder Cup foursomes match, a showdown of two unbeaten duos from the 2014 event.
Europe seeks an unprecedented fourth victory in a row over the host United States at Hazeltine. The Europeans have won six of the past seven and eight of the last 10 meetings in the biennial team golf rivalry.
England’s Rose, who won the first Olympic title in 112 years last month, and Sweden’s Stenson, the reigning British Open champion, went 3-0 together in Europe’s win two years ago at Gleneagles, winning once in alternate shot foursomes and twice in four-ball.
“Justin and Henrik are a very proven, successful Ryder Cup pairing. Both very strong players,” Europe captain Darren Clarke said. “To lead off, they were always going to be my choice. That was never, never in doubt.”
Spieth, a two-time major winner, and Reed, who won respect for his fiery style when paired with fellow newcomer Spieth in 2014, won twice in four-ball and halved a foursomes match against Rose and Germany’s Martin Kaymer in Scotland.
“It just happened that Patrick Reed’s name is at the top of the list, but our most fired-up guy is going to be in front of the most fired-up crowd maybe in the history of golf. So that’s a good start,” US captain Davis Love said.
“And then you have a guy that can handle that crowd and handle the pressure playing with him – two of their best players obviously. So I think I might watch that match right off the bat.”
Reed, who shushed European fans after making long putts, has longed for the chance to represent the USA on home soil that will come Friday morning.
“We liked Patrick getting out there first and getting started,” Love said. “He has just been talking so excited. He’s ready to go and fired up. We just felt like that first tee atmosphere just fit him and Jordan to get it kicked off.”
Clarke said he did not ponder US pairings one bit but did confess, “I could have almost given you the first match before we got here.”
The second match in the opening session sends Americans Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler against Rory McIlroy, the world number three from Northern Ireland, and England’s Andy Sullivan, one of six newcomers to the Ryder Cup on the European squad.
Mickelson will match Nick Faldo with the most appearances in Ryder Cup history when he tees off in his 11th, with “Lefty” having done his in a row without being a captain’s pick.
Kaymer and Spain’s Sergio Garcia will play PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and two-time major champion Zach Johnson in the third match.
The final morning confrontation pits world number two Dustin Johnson, the reigning US Open champion, and Olympic bronze medallist Matt Kuchar of the United States against England’s Lee Westwood, in his 10th Cup, and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, in his first.
“We kind of knew what he was going to do with that first group and guessed a little bit on the rest of them,” Love said.
Sitting out the first session for Europe will be four newcomers – Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and England’s Chris Wood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett, the Masters winner whose brother insulted US fans in an internet article Wednesday.
Sitting out the first session for the US team will be J.B. Holmes, Brandt Snedeker and rookies Ryan Moore and Brooks Koepka.
Four four-ball matches will follow Friday afternoon with Saturday also offering four matches in each discipline ahead of Sunday’s 12 concluding singles matches.
Europe need only 14 of the 28 points on offer to retain the Cup while the US side must earn 14 1/2 to take the trophy.