Padraig Harrington has placed faith in the Spanish duo of Jon Rahm and Sergio García to lead Europe’s defence of the Ryder Cup. Rahm and García will take on Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, widely seen as the strongest pairing in the United States team, in match one of the Friday foursomes. Harrington, Europe’s captain, played up the significance of the clash.
“We would have been aware that JT and Jordan were going first,” Harrington said. “So we were obviously going to lead ourselves with a strong partnership with Jon and Sergio. The whole world will be watching that one. They’re putting their best out we’re putting our best out. Let’s have a go at it. It’s a big match for both sides.”
Match two sees Harrington deploy Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa. The English pair of Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick take on Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. In the final morning game, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter will face Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
Harrington added: “We have gone with an experienced setup but it’s a strong setup. It also doesn’t weaken our fourballs, which is important. We haven’t taken from the afternoon by going strong in the morning.”
McIlroy is delighted to resume his association with Poulter, as began at Medinah nine years ago. “It’s almost been a decade that Poults and I have been playing in this thing, all the way back to 2012,” said the Northern Irishman. “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.”
Steve Stricker, the US captain, exuded confidence. “I feel great about our pairings,” he said. “Some teams that have played together over the years, whether in Ryder Cups or some Presidents Cups, so we wouldn’t put them out there if we didn’t feel good about them, let me just put it that way. We are extremely excited about how these guys are playing and the order of which they are going out.”
Stricker admitted his plan had been set from early in Ryder Cup week. “It was put in front of them on Monday,” he said. “We stuck with it and we are going to stick with it.”
Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Bernd Wiesberger will therefore sit out the first session on the European side. For Team USA, that Stricker has omitted Bryson DeChambeau is no great surprise given the struggles he had during foursomes outings in the last Ryder Cup. Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler will join DeChambeau on the sidelines.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone gets a little bit of rest,” said Stricker. “He [DeChambeau] is going to get his turn at some point. These guys know the plan for the most part and are willing to do anything for the betterment of the team.”