Ryder Cup pairings: Instant reaction and analysis
CHASKA, Minn. -- After months of anticipation, the 2016 Ryder Cup is finally here.
During Thursday afternoon's Opening Ceremony at Hazeltine National, Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III and European Captain Darren Clarke revealed their pairings for Friday morning's Foursomes session.
Here's a closer look at the pairings that will get the 41st edition of these matches under way.
Match 1, 7:35 a.m. CT: Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (USA) v. Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (EUR)
Breakdown: The two stars of an otherwise forgettable 2014 Ryder Cup for the Americans, Spieth and Reed will look to set an early tone for the home side. They square off against two European veterans in Rose and Stenson. At Gleneagles two years ago, Spieth and Reed played three of a possible four matches together, winning two Fourballs sessions and losing one Foursomes match. In that same Ryder Cup, Rose and Stenson were a remarkable 3-0 as a pair. This match-up is undoubtedly one between four Ryder Cup heavyweights.
Match 2, 7:50 a.m. CT: Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler (USA) v. Rory McIlroy/Andy Sullivan (EUR)
Breakdown: This one will be interesting. Mickelson -- the all-time leader in Ryder Cup USA starts with 11 when he tees off on Friday -- has never won a match in the opening session. Fowler, meanwhile, has yet to win a single, full point in two Ryder Cup appearances. They're going to dance with Europe's strongest player in McIlroy -- red hot after two PGA Tour Playoffs victories as well as the FedExCup -- and Sullivan, a rookie, who has been jacked up all week in practice rounds with McIlroy. Sullivan and Thomas Pieters will be the only rookies out of six on Europe to appear in the first session. Mickelson wanted Fowler by his side. Love insists prior records do not matter this year -- it's a new team, he has stressed. We'll see how that plan plays out with two Ryder Cup veterans who don't have the best of records.
Match 3, 8:05 a.m. CT: Jimmy Walker/Zach Johnson (USA) v. Sergio Garcia/Martin Kaymer (EUR)
Breakdown: The reigning PGA Champion and 2015 Open Champion should make for a formidable American duo, both sporting .500 records in the Ryder Cup. That said, Garcia and Kaymer could be feared tandems on the European side. Garcia's 18 points won in the Ryder Cup ranks seventh in European team history -- he's won twice as many times as he's lost. For his part, Kaymer has won a touch more than half his matches. The key to this match could be Garcia's putter... which in Ryder Cup play often times is scorching.
Match 4, 8:20 a.m. CT: Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar (USA) v. Thomas Pieters/Lee Westwood (EUR)
Breakdown: The anchor match of the morning session -- on paper -- looks like it should be a nice one for the Americans. Johnson, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, has to be licking his chops, getting ready to play in his first Ryder Cup in four years. It doesn't hurt that he has a steady-Eddie in Kuchar as a partner. Much like Match 2, Europe has opted to peer one of its most experienced players -- Westwood -- with a rookie in Pieters. If you like the long ball, you'll want to keep a close eye on this one. Johnson and Pieters are two of the biggest hitters in the world.