Americans Xander Schauffele, the Tokyo Olympic champion, and US PGA playoff winner Patrick Cantlay face Europe’s Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy in Friday’s opening foursomes session of the Ryder Cup.
Pairings revealed at Thursday’s opening ceremony unveiled the lineup for Friday morning’s start to the 43rd biennial match-play showdown between holders Europe and the United States at Whistling Straits.
Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia will open for Europe in the first match against Americans Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth at 7:05 am (1205 GMT).
Top-ranked Rahm won his first major title in June at the US Open while Garcia is the all-time Ryder Cup points leader with 25.5. Spieth is a three-time major champion while Thomas has one major crown.
The next match, teeing off 16 minutes later, sends Americans Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa against England’s Paul Casey and Norway’s Viktor Hovland.
World number two Johnson won his second major title at last year’s Masters while Morikawa captured his second in July at the British Open.
Match three finds Englishmen Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick facing Americans Brooks Koepka, a four-time major winner, and Daniel Berger with Americans Schauffele and Cantlay off last against Europe talisman Poulter and four-time major winner McIlroy.
The event was delayed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, those involved not wanting to conduct the Ryder Cup without spectators.
“Seeing all of you out here, it was all worth the wait,” US captain Steve Stricker told thousands at the opening ceremony.
European captain Padraig Harrington admitted, “There were times I figured this might not happen.”
“After all the world has been through the past two years, it’s such a joy and relief to be standing here in front of you.”
Friday’s early foursomes matches will be followed by four afternoon four-balls matches and Saturday will have foursomes followed by four-balls ahead of Sunday’s 12 concluding singles matches.
The United States will need 14.5 points to win the Ryder Cup while Europe need only 14 to retain the trophy.
The United States owns a 26-14 with two drawn edge in the all-time rivalry but since expanding from Britain and Ireland to all of Europe in 1979, the Europeans are 11-8-1, winning nine of the past 12 and four of the past five.
World number two Johnson said there was no secret to Europe’s recent success.
“They just play better,” he said. “It’s really simple. Whoever plays better is going to win. I mean, it’s not rocket science.”