The 2023 Ryder Cup is on the brink of commencement, and with just about 12 hours left before the action kicks off, the Day 1 pairings and tee times have been officially unveiled. Notable adjustments were made by Zach Johnson for the United States team, while Luke Donald opted for some heavyweight pairings on the European side.
In a surprising move for the opening foursomes session starting at 1:35 a.m. ET on Friday, the longstanding duo of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas will not be taking the field. This dynamic U.S. pair from previous Ryder Cups will observe from the sidelines as their teammates strive to secure points in the 44th Ryder Cup.
Contrastingly, on the European side, nearly all notable players are in action; Europe is deploying a full-scale assault against the Americans in the initial session. The session will kick off with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, with Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood closing it out. In between, a captivating pairing of Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg adds an element of excitement.
Let’s delve into the matchups for the first session on Friday morning:
Match 1 — Scheffler & Burns vs. Rahm & Hatton: Anticipated due to their collaboration at last year’s Presidents Cup, this American duo faces a formidable European pair. Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player, aims to replicate his success from the previous Ryder Cup by taking on Rahm. The volatile combination of Rahm and Hatton promises entertainment. Prediction: Europe
Match 2 — Homa & Harman vs. Hovland & Aberg: A somewhat surprising American pairing faces the nuclear European duo. Harman’s magic short game and the steadiness of both players from tee to green could pose a challenge. However, the exceptional driving skills of the Scandinavian pair make this matchup intriguing. Prediction: United States (upset)
Match 3 — Fowler & Morikawa vs. Straka & Lowry: Unexpected pairings for both sides, with Fowler & Morikawa showcasing similar styles. This could be a close matchup, with Fowler & Morikawa being the U.S. favorites due to their opponents’ relative inexperience in this format. Prediction: United States (close)
Match 4 — Cantlay & Schauffele vs. McIlroy & Fleetwood: As expected, Cantlay & Schauffele close the session for the Americans. Their high floor and consistency make them suitable for foursomes. McIlroy & Fleetwood present an interesting combination, seeking success after searching for new partners. Prediction: Europe
The big surprise lies in the absence of Spieth and Thomas, with Captain Zach Johnson justifying the decision based on the physical demands of the golf course and the need for strategic planning. Despite the shock, this move indicates a data-driven approach to optimize performance throughout the week, not just in the opening session.
As the Ryder Cup tees off on Friday morning at Marco Simone, the focus shifts to the overarching goal of winning the week, showcasing a strategic mindset by the American team. The dynamics of each matchup will unfold, offering fans a thrilling start to the 44th Ryder Cup.