The 2016 Ryder Cup begins Friday morning from Hazeltine National Golf Club. Four years after the last Ryder Cup on United States soil, and after months of speculation over who would make the teams, the players are finally ready to tee it up.
There is no event in golf like the Ryder Cup, and if the week of practice leading up to the first matches is any indication, it’s going to be a raucous and energetic scene in Minnesota. It all starts with alternate-shot foursomes Friday morning.
The teams will play alternate-shot foursomes in the morning then best-ball foursomes in the afternoon. The first eight of 28 points will be on the line on Day 1. The teams are made up of 12 players on each side, but only eight will tee it up Friday morning. European captain Darren Clarke and United States captain Davis Love III announced the pairings after the opening ceremony on Thursday. The Friday afternoon pairings will be announced following the morning matches.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are once again grouped together. The pairing managed 2.5 points in three matches in 2014, including a win in their opening alternate-shot foursome to begin the tournament. Phil Mickelson will pair with Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson will form another group with Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar forming the final morning duo for the United States. J.B. Holmes, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore will sit out the morning session.
Playing Zach Johnson in the alternate-shot foursome is a curious move by Love. For all of his strengths, Johnson is not especially strong off the tee. He ranked 147th in shots gained off the tee on the PGA Tour. By inserting him into the alternate-shot lineup, Love is committing to playing up to nine Johnson tee shots. Meanwhile, Koepka is on the bench, one of the best players off the tee on the PGA Tour. He ranked 13th is strokes gained off the tee this season. We’ll see if that decision pays off for the United States on Friday morning.
Here is a complete look at the pairings and tee times for the morning session. All times Eastern.
8:35 a.m.: Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson (EUR) vs. Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed (USA)
8:50 a.m.: Phil Mickelson & Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy & Andy Sullivan (EUR)
9:05 a.m.: Sergio Garcia & Martin Kaymer (EUR) vs. Jimmy Walker & Zach Johnson (USA)
9:20 a.m.: Dustin Johnson & Matt Kuchar (USA) vs. Thomas Pieters & Lee Westwood (EUR)