Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy will begin Europe’s defence of the Ryder Cup later today. The Northern Irish Major winners have been entrusted with leading off Europe’s charge by captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
The world number one and his close friend have been thrust into the full glare of the Ryder Cup spotlight but both men are more than up to the challenge. They face Jim Furyk and Ryder Cup rookie Brandt Snedeker at 1.20pm Irish time, at the Medinah Country Club near Chicago.
The captains have saved the spiciest pairing until last. World number one Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker take on the English pair of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. The foursome will give Woods and Poulter a chance to renew rivalries in a match that could prove to be crucial.
Woods and Poulter’s enmity was stoked by the Englishman’s cocky assertion of victory before he faced Matt Kuchar in the singles two years ago. Several incidents have occurred between the pair and tales related in books by those close to Woods have indicated the depth of Woods’ ill feelings towards Poulter. Earlier this week, Poulter told reporters “I want another crack at Tiger.” He gets his opportunity today and there could be fireworks.
Elsewhere, the unbeaten partnership of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia has been kept intact by Olazabal and they square off against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. The fourth match up sees Lee Westwood and Francisco Molinari take on Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
13:20 Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell v Jim Furyk/Brandt Snedeker
13:35 Luke Donald/Sergio Garcia v Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson
13:50 Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson v Francesco Molinari /Lee Westwood
14:05 Steve Stricker /Tiger Woods v Ian Poulter/Justin Rose