Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023 Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy

Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm will spearhead Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup when they take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the opening foursomes match on Friday at Whistling Straits.

The Spanish duo will get things under way at 7.05am before England's Paul Casey and Norwegian debutant Viktor Hovland go up against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa.

English pair Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood then take on Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka before Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter face off against Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in the anchor match.

"I'm comfortable with the team I've put out there," said European Captain Pádraig Harrington. "Strong, experienced team.

"I had 12 players who could play foursomes, so that was a pretty tough decision to have to rest four. It wasn't a very easy decision.

"I think it was pretty clear to me where we were going, though. Very happy with the partnerships I've put out there and clearly it's interesting when you see the match-ups.

"In a perfect world, you would like to go out there and win the session, win it well and lead from the front and keep going. We don't get that choice. You've got to go out and earn it.

"We put out a strong foursomes group, yes. As regards the sort of positioning of the matches, the only one we would have been aware of would be JT and Jordan, and we have got a very strong pairing in that match.

"Outside of that, clearly Rory and Poults were a pairing that were predicted and I suppose if anything, we kind of just split those up in the first group there at the end, and we have two lovely pairings in the middle."

The pairing of the two Spaniards will evoke memories of the partnership of Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal, who won 12 points together, twice as many as any other European duo.

This will be World Number One Rahm's first appearance in foursomes after playing two fourball matches in 2018, but a victory will ensure Garcia stands alone as Europe's most successful foursomes player and extend his record as top points scorer.

Spieth and Thomas, meanwhile, will be looking to continue a successful partnership which brought three points out of four in Paris in 2018.

Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

"We are looking to start it the right way," said Rahm. "So nothing could be better than to be paired with my friend over here, even though he's most likely teeing off on one and I'm glad he's doing it. It's a true honour. Spanish legacy is deep in the Ryder Cup and I'm hoping we can start a new tradition."

Garcia added: "It's going to be exciting. It's going to be nervy on the first tee but that's what the Ryder Cup is all about. I've been there before and I'm very, very excited and I hope that we can play great like I know we can and get a point for Europe."

Casey is playing in his fifth Ryder Cup but just his third foursomes match, while Hovland becomes the first Norwegian to play in the Ryder Cup.

Open Champion Morikawa is making his Ryder Cup debut, while Johnson is playing in his fifth, with one point from four foursomes matches.

It's about putting points on the board. We have done that a lot for Team Europe and we're going to do it again
— Ian Poulter

"This is like the night before Christmas," said Casey. "The Ryder Cup is so special, to be playing the first session, as well is a great honour. Captain Harrington obviously has faith in my abilities but also to be playing with Viktor, it shows everybody how good this guy is.

"Rookies tend not to play sort of first sessions, especially something like foursomes. But I cannot wait to get started with this guy standing next to me."

Hovland added: "I was having trouble sleeping last week. It's a bit more real now after we just watched the opening ceremony and it's going to be so much fun playing tomorrow."

Reigning Race to Dubai Champion Westwood tees it up in his record equalling 11th Ryder Cup and a record 19th foursomes match, taking 11 foursomes points since his debut in 1997.

Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fitzpatrick is paired with Westwood for the first time in his second Ryder Cup as he goes in search of a first point.

Koepka has claimed one foursomes point in two previous appearances, while Berger is one of the United States' six rookies.

"It's going to be an exciting match," said Westwood. "It feels like it takes a long time for the Friday morning to come around but finally it's here and ready to play tomorrow morning and getting that first session out of the way."

Fitzpatrick added: "You want to play every game, so to get off to a start and play in the morning on Friday is extra special."

McIlroy continues his record of being selected in every session he has been eligible for since making his debut in 2010, with five wins and four losses in foursomes.

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

He first played alongside Poulter in fourballs as the Englishman made five consecutive birdies to kickstart the Miracle at Medinah in 2012 and they have been teamed together on three further occasions, winning a foursomes point in Paris in 2018.

Poulter has a formidable record in foursomes, with five wins and just two losses, while FedEx Cup winner Cantlay and Olympic Champion Schauffele are both playing in their first Ryder Cups.

"It's almost been a decade that Poults and I have been playing in this thing, all the way back to 2012," said McIlroy. "We've put points on the board for Europe which is really important but we've also had a lot of fun doing it.

"So we are going to go out there this week and enjoy ourselves and play our absolute hearts out and try to put points on the board for our team."

Poulter added: "We have played some great golf together through the years and this is going to be another special match. It's about putting points on the board. We have done that a lot for Team Europe and we're going to do it again."

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