Rose, Stenson picked for Ryder Cup start
Photo Source: PAA
In a bid to give holders Europe a fast start to the 41st Ryder Cup, captain Darren Clarke will send out golfing heavyweights Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson first in the opening foursomes.
Olympic champion Rose and British Open winner Stenson, who went 3-0 when paired together at Gleneagles two years ago, will face sizzling American duo Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in a mouth-watering match-up at Hazeltine National on Friday (Saturday AEST).
Twice major winner Spieth and Reed, aged 23 and 26 respectively, formed an unbeaten partnership as rookies at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland.
"Justin and Henrik are a very proven, successful Ryder Cup pairing," Clarke said about his first match out.
"Both very strong players ... they were always going to be my choice for leading Europe off in this match.
"That was never, never in doubt."
United States captain Davis Love III, like Clarke, always had a feeling that Spieth and Reed would face Rose and Stenson in the top match.
"We kind of knew what he (Clarke) was going to do with that first group, and guessed a little bit on the rest of them," said Love. "That first match is going to be exciting."
Clarke opted for a blend of experience and form in his final combination, pairing English veteran Lee Westwood with long-hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters, a rookie who won his third European Tour title at last month's Made in Denmark tournament.
In the second match out, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler will take on Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Englishman Andy Sullivan with Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson next out against Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Germany's Martin Kaymer.
"We just picked four of our best alternate-shot pairings ... and lined them up in the best order we thought for getting started, so we're excited about our four," said Love.
"We knew Europe is going to put out great teams no matter what we did, so we put out great teams as well."
A notable absentee from Clarke's pairings was Masters champion Danny Willett, whose preparations for his Ryder Cup debut were disrupted by his brother Peter Willett's published lampooning of US golf fans earlier this week.
Clarke, however, said that he had never intended Willett to play in the opening session at Hazeltine.
"With regard to Danny, he will be playing tomorrow afternoon," said Clarke. "I have a plan for what I'm going to try and execute this week.
"Danny is fine. Danny is ready to go. He wants to play. He's like all the guys; he's disappointed he's not playing in the morning, and he understands what I'm trying to do is for the team. "