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Best European pair to meet best U.S. duo in first foursome match on Friday

Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune on

Published in Golf

HAVEN, Wis. — European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington didn't need a crystal ball to foresee the first alternate-shot match early Friday morning at Whistling Straits:

His own world No. 1 Jon Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia against longtime American pals Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

"Look, if you didn't predict this ... ," he said. "They're putting their best out. We're putting our best out. Let's have a go at it."

That first foursomes match starts 7:05 a.m. Central time, followed by Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa vs. Paul Casey/Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger vs. Lee Westwood/Matt Fitzpatrick and Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele vs. Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter.

The American pairings were pretty predictable. Europe surprised some with 40-somethings Garcia, Westwood and Poulter all summoned first thing for their experience and savvy. U.S. captain Steve Stricker said he didn't try to anticipate Europe's lineup, but he figured Rahm and McIlroy would be first and fourth in either order.

Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler won't play for the U.S. team in the morning. Neither will Europe's Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Weisberger.

 

Rare air

European players' golf bags each carry a number given to them after Harrington showed a motivational video entitled "Make It Count." It informed them each is one of just 164 to play for Europe in a Ryder Cup.

That's far fewer than the 570 people who have been in space, the 5,780 who have climbed Mount Everest or even the 225 men who have won a golf major.

Now 48, Westwood is No. 118 from his 1997 Ryder Cup debut. Garcia is 120, Poulter 134, Rahm 161 and last man added to the team Weisberger 164.

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