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Thomas, Spieth to open Ryder Cup for Team USA

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The United States duo of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth will get the Ryder Cup started early Friday morning at Whistling Straits, taking on the European team of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, both from Spain.

The format for the first session is foursomes, also known as alternate shot.

Thomas and Spieth teamed to go 3-1 at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France. Garcia is the all-time Ryder Cup points leader, and Rahm is the No. 1-ranked player in the world. They begin at 8:05 a.m. ET.

“Everybody is ready to get going finally,” U.S. captain Steve Stricker said. “It’s been three years and you come in here on Sunday evening and the practice rounds are great but yet you have Friday in the back of your mind and you are just looking forward to getting out there and getting it going.

“I feel great about our pairings. Some teams that have played together over the years, whether in Ryder Cups or some Presidents Cups, so we wouldn’t put them out there if we didn’t feel good about them, let me just put it that way. So we are extremely excited about how these guys are playing, and the order of which they are going out.”

The next match pits Americans Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa against Paul Casey of England and Viktor Hovland of Norway at 8:21 a.m. ET. Johnson is playing in his fifth Ryder Cup, the most of any American player on the team. He is 7-9 overall. Morikawa is a Ryder Cup rookie who has won two major championships. Casey is playing in his fifth Ryder Cup, while Hovland is making his first appearance.

Americans Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger will take on Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick, both from England. The match begins at 8:53 a.m. ET. Koepka, recovering from a left wrist injury, is playing in his third Ryder Cup, while Berger makes his first appearance. Both played at Florida State. Westwood is playing in the Ryder Cup for a European record-tying 11th time. This is Fitzpatrick’s second appearance.

Americans Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay will play against Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The match begins at 8:53 a.m. ET. Both Schauffele and Cantlay are making their Ryder Cup debuts, but they went 2-2 as a team at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne. They were 2-0 in foursomes. McIlroy is making his sixth appearance and Poulter his seventh.

European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington went with a lot of experience in the opening session, and it was no surprise that he had Rahm in the first group and McIlroy in the last. Both captains said they had a plan in place for the afternoon four-ball matches and expected to stick to it without changes. Although neither would fully commit, it’s expected that the players sitting out in the morning will all play in the afternoon.

In foursomes, players alternate hitting tee shots and then alternate hitting shots until the hole is completed. There are just two balls in play, one for each team, and a hole is won with the lowest score.

Sitting out the first session for the Americans will be Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Scottie Scheffler and Tony Finau. Sitting out for Europe will be Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger.

Four four-ball matches will take place in the afternoon, with the same format used for Saturday. There will be 12 singles matches on Sunday for a total of 28 points from all three days’ events.

Europe has won four of the past five Ryder Cups, as well as five of the past seven. It needs 14 points to retain the Cup, while the Americans need 14½ to win it.

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