Northern Ireland’s world number one Rory McIlroy will face American veteran Phil Mickelson in the opening fourballs of this year’s edition
McIlroy teams up with Spain’s Sergio Garcia to take on Team USA’s Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the fourth match of Friday morning.
Mickelson, making his 10th appearance in the Ryder Cup, added extra spice to the contest with a light-hearted jibe aimed at McIlroy on his court case against his former management company Horizon which still has his teammate and compatriot Greame Mcdowell amongst its clients.
“Not only are we able to play together, we also don’t litigate against each other,” Mickelson joked.
“It’s going to be a difficult match against what we perceive as the strongest team that Europe has,” added the 44-year-old on a more serious note.
“We have our work cut out for us, but we’re on top of our games as well and hopefully we’ll have a good match.”
McIlroy and Garcia will play together for the first time while Mickelson and Bradley won all three of their matches together at Medinah in 2012.
“They are obviously a very strong pairing,” said McIlroy.
“They’ve never been beaten together and we’re looking to hand them their first defeat tomorrow morning, so it will be a tough match, they’re both great competitors.”
England’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson of Sweden will start Europe’s defence against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson in the first match of the biennial tournament.
Debutants Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will face England’s Ryder Cup hero Ian Poutler and European rookie Stephen Gallacher, the only Scotsman in the team in the third match of the day.
Explaining his decision to pair Poulter with Gallacher, Europe captain Paul McGinley said, “Ian will enjoy the atmosphere Stevie will create with a Scottish following. Ian is looking forward to that role.”
Meanwhile United States captain Tom Watson has three newcomers in his 12-man squad and he has placed all of his rookies into the first session of Friday morning.
“I think fourballs is a good place for the rookies to get their feet wet, playing every shot,” said Watson. “I have every confidence in the world in them doing very well.”
USA’s other debutant Jimmy Walker will partner Rickie Fowler against Germany’s former world no. 1 Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark in match two on Friday.
USA will look to wrest the coveted trophy back Europe this time and wipe away the disappointing memories of Medinah Country Club two years ago.
Despite being 10-6 down going into the final day, Europe under captain Jose Maria Olzabal made a fantastic recovery to defeat USA 14½ points to 13½ which in the annals of the tournament has come to be known as the “Miracle of Medinah.”