The long period of anticipation is almost over after the opening ceremony for the 36th Ryder Cup at the K Club got underway this afternoon, with the big announcement being the line-ups for tomorrow’s opening fourballs.
The two most iconic figures on each team, Europe’s Colin Montgomerie and the USA’s Tiger Woods, will go head-to-head in the great event’s opening match at 08:00 BST tomorrow. Montgomerie will be partnered by local boy Padraig Harrington and they are sure to be granted an enormous ovation on the first tee as they prepare to face world number one Woods and his partner Jim Furyk.
The second game matches up Europe’s Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson with Stewart Cink and JJ Henry, while third out on the opening morning are the Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, who will take on David Toms and Brett Wetterich of the USA.
In the final game of the morning, two strong US players have been paired together as expected. However, Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson will need high levels of concentration as they face up to Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, whose ovation and following is likely to be even bigger than Montgomerie and Harrington’s following the difficult few weeks that Clarke has endured.
The main surprise was European skipper Ian Woosnam’s decision to leave Luke Donald out of the opening round of matches, but the Welshman was satisfied with how the draw had turned out.
“I thought they [the USA] would come out as strong as they possibly could,” he said.
“I expected Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to be off first and had an inkling that Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson would be last. I think that with Padraig and Colin off first and Lee and Darren off last you’re going to have two fantastic fourballs. There’s been a lot of talk about Woods and Furyk playing together so it will be a big boost if we can beat that pairing early on.”
US captain Lehman was similarly pleased with the draw and claimed that the two skippers had guessed each other’s plans perfectly.
“I knew they would put a very strong team out first and I know Monty likes to go out first,” he said.
“So I expected him to be in the first group with Harrington. I wanted to meet strength with strength. The first point is very important, but it’s not the end of the match. I feel we have four very strong teams and if someone falters the other one will pick up. That’s the essence of a team. In a team, you cover for each other.”
FRIDAY’S FOURBALLS – ALL TIMES BST
08:00 P Harrington & C Montgomerie (Eur) v T Woods & J Furyk (USA)
08:15 P Casey & R Karlsson (Eur) v S Cink & JJ Henry (USA)
08:30 S Garcia & J M Olazabal (Eur) v D Toms & B Wetterich (USA)
08:45 D Clarke & L Westwood (Eur) v P Mickelson & C DiMarco (USA)
RYDER CUP RECORDS OF THE SIXTEEN PLAYERS
C Montgomerie (Eur) – P32 W19 L8 H5
P Harrington (Eur) – P12 W7 L4 H1
T Woods (USA) – P20 W7 L11 H2
J Furyk (USA) – P15 W4 L9 H2
P Casey (Eur) – P2 W1 L1 H0
R Karlsson (Eur) – Rookie
S Cink (USA) – P7 W2 L4 H1
JJ Henry (USA) – Rookie
S Garcia (Eur) – P15 W10 L3 H2
JM Olazabal (Eur) – P28 W15 L8 H5
D Toms (USA) – P8 W4 L3 H1
B Wetterich (USA) – Rookie
L Westwood (Eur) – P20 W11 L8 H1
D Clarke (Eur) – P17 W7 L7 H3
P Mickelson (USA) – P20 W9 L8 H3
C DiMarco (USA) – P4 W2 L1 H1