Analysis: Day 1 foursomes bring the heat immediately at 43rd Ryder Cup

·3 min read

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The 43rd Ryder Cup begins Friday at Whistling Straits with four foursomes (alternate shot) matches in the morning and four fourball (better ball) matches in the afternoon.

Here's a look at the opening four matches (all times ET) between the U.S. and Europe, with GolfChannel.com senior writers Ryan Lavner and Rex Hoggard providing some insight. Click here for how to watch all three days of competition on Golf Channel, NBC Sports and Peacock.

8:05 a.m.: Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Europe)

Ryan Lavner: As good as it gets right out of the gates, strength on strength. A slight edge to the Americans, who can ride the juice of the home crowd early.

Rex Hoggard: Let’s get right to it, eh? This is what we’ve waited three years for, the U.S. team’s go-to pairing against the new Spanish armada. Day 1’s opening bout will set the stage for the entire week and the U.S. is poised to make a statement.

8:21 a.m.: Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) vs. Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (Europe)

Lavner: Interesting matchup here: Hovland is a rookie who doesn’t play like one, while Casey is a veteran who hasn’t played foursomes since 2008. DJ is 4-8 all-time in partner play (including 1-3 in foursomes), but teaming with the best iron player in the game might be the spark he needs.

Hoggard: U.S. captain Steve Stricker did nothing to hide his potential pairings this week, but Europe’s Padraig Harrington was full of misdirection and the Americans had to be surprised by the Casey-Hovland pairing. It’s the Continent’s rookie who gives the European side the edge in this match.

Breaking down Ryder Cup Day 1 foursome matches

8:37 a.m.: Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) vs. Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick (Europe)

Lavner: Fitzpatrick had a forgettable cup in his only appearance in 2016, but he now can rely on the steady hand of Westwood, making his 11th start. Sure to be unfazed by the moment are former Florida State teammates and South Florida bros Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, who teamed up once before, at the 2017 Presidents Cup.

Hoggard: Although Stricker’s move to pair two former Seminoles is inspired, this has all the markings of Westwood’s swansong Ryder Cup and there’s little chance the 40-something Englishman goes quietly. Advantage Europe.

8:53 a.m.: Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (Europe)

Lavner: Schauffele and Cantlay paired for each of the team sessions at Royal Melbourne, so this one has been telegraphed for nearly two years. If they can knock off Europe’s heart-and-soul squad (which went 1-1 in foursomes in Paris), the Americans will probably appear in every session together this time, too.

Hoggard: Both captains end the morning foursomes session with the same intrigue and firepower that they started the day with. McIlroy and Poulter will be relentless and Cantaly and Schauffele are key to the U.S. team’s success. This one is too close to call.

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