Friday Foursomes pairings revealed
After two years of build-up, the pairings for the opening Friday Foursomes Matches were revealed at the conclusion of The 2012 Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will launch Europe’s bid to retain The Ryder Cup against Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker in Friday’s opening foursomes match.
The Northern Irish pair, who teamed up three times in Europe’s victory at The Celtic Manor Resort, were chosen by José María Olazábal to lead out at Medinah.
Unbeaten foursomes pair Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia will look to extend their incredible record against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in game two, before Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari take on Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
The final game of the morning session also promises to be a classic as English pair Ian Poulter and Justin Rose face World Number Two Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.
Woods and Stricker boast a 6-2 winning record together, but their last two games were the 6&5 defeat at the hands of Westwood and Donald in Wales two years ago and then a 7&6 loss to Adam Scott and K J Choi at the start of last November's Presidents Cup.
They did not play together again that week after that.
It means the four left out by Olazábal, who shed a few tears during the opening ceremony at the first mention of the late Seve Ballesteros, were Scot Paul Lawrie, Germany's former World Number One Martin Kaymer, Swede Peter Hanson and Belgian newcomer Nicolas Colsaerts.
The quartet kept waiting to play by Love were his two Major winners this year - Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson and US Open Champion Webb Simpson - plus Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
It would have been a huge shock if McIlroy and McDowell were not together again.
Close friends and compatriots, they claimed one win, one half and one loss two years ago, but won three out of four in the 2009 Seve Trophy in Paris and have twice been Omega Mission Hills World Cup partners as well.
In Donald, Garcia and Westwood Europe can call on three players with outstanding foursomes records in the event.
Donald will be looking to make it a perfect seven out of seven.
His first four wins in 2004 and 2006 came with Garcia as his partner and two years ago he won with Poulter and then with Westwood.
Garcia is unbeaten in nine foursomes, eight of them victories, while Westwood has not lost any of his last ten games in the format going back to 1999.
His partners in that time have been Darren Clarke, Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Kaymer and Donald - and now he links up with the Italian whose debut two years ago came alongside his brother Edoardo.
A month after that Molinari pipped Westwood to his first World Golf Championships title in Shanghai - with the best of the rest nine shots further back.
Garcia remains the only teenager ever to appear in the match, his debut in 1999 coming a month after he and Woods battled for the US PGA Championship at Medinah.
Jesper Parnevik was his first partner and they won their opening three games and got a half in the other, while in subsequent foursomes the Spaniard has won with Westwood, Donald and Olazábal.
Rose and Poulter won two of their three games together four years ago, Rose not making the 2010 match despite winning twice in America that summer.
All eight omitted from the opening session will be hoping to enter the fray in the afternoon fourballs.
More reaction to follow...