Spieth, Reed lead off in intriguing opening matches


Finally, after three days of practice rounds and celebrating the 24 deserving individuals about to compete in the 41st Ryder Cup, we have our first pairings for Friday.

Many of the pairings were indicative of the pods both captains grouped players in throughout the week, but there were a couple of surprises.

The foursomes get the event underway, and the first group is one to watch.


Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson (Europe)

Neither captain pulled any punches with this matchup. With four of the best players in the world, and four of the grittiest Ryder Cup competitors facing off against each other, this one should provide plenty of fireworks and set the tone for the event.

Rose and Stenson kicked off the 2014 Ryder Cup with a 5 and 4 win against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, and they will try to do the same against arguably USA's most dynamic pairing.

Reed and Spieth looked calm and collected during the practice rounds this week. They had Tiger Woods leading their pod, so they should have a fair amount of insight. Spieth and Reed are both great putters that will not give the Europeans an inch. This could be the best match of the entire weekend.


Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan (Europe)

Some may be surprised Sullivan rose into a spot with McIlroy, thus ending the McIlroy-Sergio Garcia pairing from two years ago. But having watched Sullivan and McIlroy play their practice round together Thursday, they looked completely in sync.

McIlroy's length off the tee is no joke. The man can bomb a golf ball. Sullivan cannot, but he is deadly accurate and sinks clutch putts, something the Northern Irishman has struggled with, at times, recently.

Good friends Mickelson and Fowler will get to prove themselves against the hottest golfer in the world. Mickelson has criticised almost every captain he has ever had, which led to the infamous task force. Fowler and Mickelson were both members of that group, so there is a lot of pressure on them to perform.


Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer (Europe)

Proving the European team is not as weak as everyone thought, Darren Clarke rolled out his third strong pairing. Garcia and Kaymer are perfect Ryder Cup competitors who can take on a course in a multitude of ways.

Garcia is one of the stingiest Ryder Cup players of the past two generations. He has a will to beat his opponent few possess, and Kaymer is a steady performer who will allow Garcia to take risks. 

It is clear what Davis Love III was doing with his counter. He combined a long hitter in Walker, a guy who can take on some of the long par-fives, with a great iron and wedge player in Johnson. If this matchup is going to be a positive one for USA, Walker needs to impose his will off the tee with Johnson working the greens as much as possible.


Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar (USA) vs. Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood (Europe)

As the pairings were being announced, members of the 45,000 fans in attendance at the opening ceremony were chanting "we want Dustin" as they waited patiently for the number two golfer in the world's name to be called.

It was, and he was handed the perfect partner in Kuchar. The two are like apples and oranges, but that is good in the Ryder Cup. Johnson will be able to bomb the ball off the tee while Kuchar hits quality approach shots. They should gel perfectly.

Meanwhile, Europe threw the first curveball of the competition, starting rookie Pieters over Masters champion Danny Willett. The obvious reason could stem from the off-colour comments from Willett's brother, but Clarke may have seen something in Pieters.

After the powerhouse first matchup, this might be the most intriguing, as both pairs share similar approaches, pegging long hitters with steady ball-strikers.