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After two years of build-up, the 2023 Ryder Cup will begin tomorrow with both teams ready and raring to go. This year’s event will take place in Italy for the first time at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club and both teams have been out on the course practising ahead of the opening session on Friday morning.
USA are the current holders of the Ryder Cup following their emphatic victory at Whistling Straits in 2021 and are the favourites once again. Zach Johnson arguably has the most stacked Ryder Cup team in Ryder Cup history with all 12 players ranked inside the top 25 in the world.
Europe, meanwhile, have been formidable at home since the turn of the century and they haven’t lost a Ryder Cup on European soil in 30 years. They need 14.5 points to regain the Ryder Cup while the USA just need 14 to retain so a quick start is important for both teams on Friday.
Ryder Cup day one schedule
On the opening day in Rome, two sessions of golf will take place. In the morning, four foursome matches will take place and then four fourball matches will take place in the afternoon.
Match 1: Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns vs Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton (6:35 am UK time)
Zach Johnson has elected the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, to go up first for the USA. He will be partnered by his best friend, Sam Burns, and they will be going up against Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. This matchup presents a complete contrast in temperaments with Scheffler’s ice-cold, emotionless approach to the game coming up against the fiery and unpredictable Hatton and Rahm.
Both these duos have played alongside each other in team events in the past – Scheffler and Burns played regularly at the last Presidents Cup while Hatton and Rahm played together at Whistling Straits. The focus will understandably be on the clash between Scheffler (world #1) and Rahm (world #3) but the performances of Hatton and Burns will be just as important.
Jon Rahm on partnering with Tyrrell Hatton: “Oh, well, I’m going to say it’s a great partnership. We’ve played quite a bit of golf together, and we approach the game quite the same. Our feelings on the golf course are quite very much the same.”
That is one way to put it, yes. pic.twitter.com/OCvYPJmIlr
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) September 28, 2023
Match 2: Max Homa and Brian Harman vs Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg (6:50 am UK time)
For match two, Zach Johnson has sprung a surprise by picking two Ryder Cup rookies to go out together. Homa and Harman have both enjoyed impressive individual seasons on the PGA Tour with Homa winning two events on tour and Harman becoming a major champion when he won the Open Championship.
Despite that, not many saw this call from Johnson coming especially when Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are all sitting the morning session out. The American duo will come up against Viktor Hovland, a man in red-hot form following his Tour Championship win, a well-fancied rookie, Ludvig Aberg.
Match 3: Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa vs Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka (7:05 am UK time)
If match two throws up one surprising pair then match three throws up two. Fowler and Morikawa is a foursome pairing that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense on paper. Neither Fowler nor Morikawa are great off the tee but they are both excellent iron players. Usually, captains like to pair good iron players with accurate drivers but this is far from the case here.
In terms of the European duo, Lowry hasn’t had a great season so the decision to put him out in the opening session has raised eyebrows. Putting the Irishman alongside Straka is also an interesting one, given how erratic the Austrian can be.
Match 4: Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele vs Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy (7:20 am UK time)
The final foursome matchup on Friday morning is a mouthwatering prospect. Schauffele and Cantlay were bankers to play this format for the USA given how well they performed at Whistling Straits two years ago when they put two points on the board from two sessions. Their games complement each other perfectly and Johnson will be banking on them to come up trumps once again.
It’s not going to be an easy task, though. They are taking on Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy – a foursome duo which on paper could be sensational. McIlroy’s length and Fleetwood’s finesse could be magical and both have good Ryder Cup records albeit with different partners. While Rahm vs Scheffler is a great way to kick things off, this foursome match is the pick of opening matches.
— Rory McIlroy Tracker (@RMTracker) September 28, 2023
- Fourball match one (11:25 am UK time)
- Fourball match two (11:40 am UK time)
- Fourball match three (11:55 am UK time)
- Fourball match four (12:10 pm UK time)
The two captains will announce the pairings for the afternoon’s fourballs shortly after the foursomes has finished on Friday morning. Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are almost certain to be involved after being left out of the foursomes while US Open champion Wyndham Clark could also play.
Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick will also likely play a part in the fourballs, however, Europe may rotate less to ensure the likes of McIlroy, Fleetwood, Hovland and Rahm stay out on the course.
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