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Ryder Cup Match Previews: Pairings Announced for Friday Morning Foursomes

The Ryder Cup is almost here. Pairings for the opening Foursomes session were announced at Thursday’s Opening Ceremony from Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, setting the stage for the start of this highly-anticipated competition between the United States and Europe.

This year’s Ryder Cup, the first in Italy, is a collision between the United States’ recent success and its decades of futility. The U.S. beat Europe in a record rout, 19-9, two years ago at Whistling Straits but it has been 30 years since the U.S. won on the road. The U.S. men also are 6-1 in their past seven international competitions (Ryder and Presidents Cups). The U.S. returns seven players from its 2021 Ryder Cup team, led by world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, and eight players from last year’s victorious Presidents Cup team.

Home success hasn’t just been a European thing, however. The home team is 7-1 in the past eight Ryder Cups and Europe is hoping to continue that trend. The partisan fans and a familiar course – Marco Simone has hosted the past three Italian Opens on the DP World Tour – will be a welcome advantage for a European Team that is in transition, missing several of the stalwarts who were key to Europe’s success over the past three decades.

European Captain Luke Donald decided to begin this year’s Ryder Cup with Foursomes, otherwise known as alternate shot, as opposed to the usual Four-ball format. This is the first time since 1993 that a Ryder Cup in Europe will start with that format, which is traditionally Europe’s strongest. Check below for the pairings and previews of the matches.


Match 1: 1:35 a.m. – Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (USA) vs. Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe)

Not only are they good friends, but they have complementary skill sets. Scheffler is having a historic ball-striking season, leading the PGA TOUR in both Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. Burns, meanwhile is one of the TOUR’s top putters, which should allow him to cash in on Scheffler’s strong approaches. Scheffler enlisted a new putting coach, Phil Kenyon, before this Ryder Cup and could be downright dangerous if his putting struggles are fixed. Scheffler and Burns surprisingly struggled at last year’s Presidents Cup, going 0-2-1 together, including 0-2 in Foursomes. This is the first Ryder Cup Foursomes match for both Burns and Scheffler. Burns is a rookie, while Scheffler didn’t play either of the Foursomes sessions at Whistling Straits.

Europe’s two players are each making their third Ryder Cup appearance, but they’ve only combined to play three Foursomes matches. Neither player competed in the format in their debuts at Le Golf National. Rahm was 2-0 alongside Sergio Garcia at Whistling Straits, while Hatton was 0-1 with Paul Casey at Whistling Straits. Rahm and Hatton were paired in a Four-ball match at Whistling Straits, tying Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau. Rahm and Hatton are two of the TOUR’s top drivers, which will be a key to success. Rahm ranked in the top 10 of Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee for six straight seasons from 2017-22, while Hatton was 13th this season (up from 123rd a year ago). Hatton also ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Putting, his second consecutive season in the top 10 of that metric. But, more importantly, they’re two fiery players who could rally the home crowd if they can defeat a U.S. pairing that includes the No. 1 player in the world. “They’re both world-class players, both fantastic ball-strikers. I think Jon feeds off a playing partner with similar fire and passion,” said European Captain Luke Donald.

Player records: Scheffler (2-0-1 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Burns (0-0-0 overall); Rahm (4-3-1 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Hatton (2-4-1 overall; 0-1-0 Foursomes)

Match 2: 1:50 a.m. – Max Homa/Brian Harman (USA) vs. Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Aberg (Europe)

U.S. Captain Zach Johnson throws out a curveball here with two Ryder Cup rookies, but Harman proved more than up to the task as he won The Open Championship despite crowd hostility in July. He’s also an especially accurate driver, which will be crucial at rough-choked Marco Simone and especially in the Foursomes format, where big misses incur a heavy penalty. Homa, who has won twice on the PGA TOUR this season, looked born for team play when he went 4-0-0 at the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow last year.

It’s unconventional to send out a rookie (Aberg) and a guy who’s never won a Ryder Cup match (Hovland) in just the second match, but Europe Captain Donald has ample reason to. In winning the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship (and FedExCup), Hovland proved one of the hottest players in the game. At Marco Simone, he made a 1 (albatross) at the par-4 fifth hole in practice on Thursday. Aberg, who not long ago was still playing college golf, won the Omega European Masters in just his ninth start as a pro and is wowing onlookers with not just his precocity but also his driving. He’s the only player on TOUR to average over 315 yards off the tee while hitting at least 60% of the fairways.

Player records: Homa (0-0-0 overall); Harman (0-0-0 overall); Hovland (0-3-2 overall; 0-2-0 Foursomes); Aberg (0-0-0 overall)

Match 3: 2:05 a.m. – Rickie Fowler/Collin Morikawa (USA) vs. Shane Lowry/Sepp Straka (Europe)

Morikawa formed a successful pairing with Dustin Johnson at Whistling Straits, as they went 3-0 together, including a pair of wins in Foursomes. It made sense, pairing the accurate Morikawa with a long hitter. Partnering him with Fowler is a different approach. But both Fowler and Morikawa are in the top 10 of Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, giving this team plenty of birdie looks, which is the key in the alternate shot format.

Both European players in this match are playing their first Foursomes match in the Ryder Cup. Sending Straka, a rookie and captain’s pick, out in the opening session is a supreme show of confidence from Luke Donald. This is another European pairing that excels off the tee, as well, as both players are ranked in the top 25 of Driving Accuracy.

Player records: Fowler (3-7-5 overall; 1-3-2 Foursomes); Morikawa (3-0-1 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Lowry (1-2-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Straka (0-0-0 overall)

Match 4: 2:20 a.m. – Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe)

Cantlay and Schauffele were widely believed to be the strongest American team coming into this week, with a 6-3 record since they began playing together at the 2019 Presidents Cup. If there’s a surprise here, it’s that they’re not in the day’s first match but instead will be the U.S. anchor. They are 5-0 in Foursomes in combined Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup play, went 2-0 at the 2021 Ryder Cup, and won the 2022 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Although they didn’t win the Zurich this year, they were the first team to score better in Foursomes than in Four-ball play.

Europe’s leader with 28 matches under his belt, McIlroy comes into this week with 11 top-10s in his last 12 worldwide starts, including a come-from-behind win at the Genesis Scottish Open. He went 1-3-0 in the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, an effort that left him in tears as the U.S. ran away with a 10-point victory, but comes to Italy in much better form this time around. He’s 5-5-1 in Foursomes, while partner Fleetwood has proven to be a stout Ryder Cup player, as well, going 4-0-0 in team play with partner Francesco Molinari at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.

Player records: Cantlay (3-0-1 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Schauffele (3-1-0 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); McIlroy (12-12-4 overall, 5-5-1 Foursomes); Fleetwood (4-2-2 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes).

Source : PGA Tour