Match 1 Breakdown: Rahm & Garcia vs. Thomas & Spieth
KOHLER, Wis. – With the opening matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup just hours away, we now know who will strike the first tee shots at Whistling Straits. Here’s a look at how the pairings stack up in Match 1, where the Europeans will send out Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia to square off with the American duo of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
How the U.S. will win: The buddies are once again reunited. Spieth and Thomas are no stranger to pairing with one another, and both have strong Ryder Cup experience upon which to lean. But the onus here will be on Spieth given the format: if he drives the ball as he did in 2015, when he finished second at the PGA Championship, the Americans should have plenty of birdie opportunities. If he starts to stray, they could be in trouble.
How Europe will win: It all starts with the world No. 1. Rahm is the best player in the world by a significant margin, and European Captain Padraig Harrington will need the burly Spaniard to perform up to that billing this week to have any chance of retaining the Cup. While the Foursomes format limits some of Rahm’s strength and makes him reliant on Garcia’s shot-making, there are worse players to rely upon than the all-time leading Ryder Cup points earner.
Key to the match: Emotions are always critical in the opening match of the Ryder Cup, but this is going to come down to Garcia. His sterling Foursomes record speaks for itself, and if he is able to hold up his end of the bargain it will be tough for Spieth and Thomas to keep pace with Rahm on a course that should suit his eye. But Foursomes offers little margin for error, so any slip-ups from the elder Spaniard will open the door for the Americans to notch a critical opening point.