Ryder Cup 2018: European captain Thomas Bjorn selects four rookies for opening fourballs

pairings

Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood will all begin their Ryder Cup careers on Friday morning

Thomas Bjorn put faith in his Ryder Cup rookies as the pairings for Friday’s fourballs were announced.

Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood will all feature on the opening morning in Paris as Europe begin their bid to regain the famous trophy.

Bjorn announced his opening pairings

Bjorn announced his opening pairings

Justin Rose was handed the task of leading the European charge as Ian Poulter was left out of the opening session at Le Golf National.

Rose, who won £7.6million on Sunday by claiming the FedEx Cup title in Atlanta, partnered Henrik Stenson in the first match at Gleneagles in 2014 and at Hazeltine two years ago.

But the Olympic champion was handed a new partner in Spain’s Rahm for Friday’s opening fourballs match as Europe look to maintain an unbeaten record on home soil which stretches back to 1993.

Rose and Rahm will take on three-time major winner Brooks Koepka and wild card Tony Finau, with Rory McIlroy and Olesen facing world number one Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in match two.

Rose has been given a new partner in Rahm

Rose has been given a new partner in Rahm

The all-English pairing of Paul Casey and Hatton then have the daunting task of taking on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, with Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari having an equally tough task against ‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed and a rejuvenated Tiger Woods.

Woods claimed the Tour Championship on Sunday for his first tournament win since August 2013 and his 80th PGA Tour title.

The 42-year-old languished as low as 1,199 in golf’s world rankings less than a year ago following spinal fusion surgery, but completed a remarkable comeback at East Lake.

Woods received a rapturous applause at the opening ceremony

Woods received a rapturous applause at the opening ceremony

Woods has been on the winning side just once in seven previous appearances and has lost 17 of his 33 matches, but there was no place in the opening session for Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman Poulter, who has won 13 points from his 18 matches and was one of Bjorn’s four wild cards.

Bjorn expressed his pride at leading the team during the opening ceremony and although he did not specifically reference Brexit, the Dane appeared to make a pointed reference to the situation.

“This great continent can at times be a fragmented place, but when it comes to the Ryder Cup it’s different. When it comes to the Ryder Cup Europe stands as one,” Bjorn said.

“We will play with passion, we will play with commitment and we will play with pride, but more than anything else this week we will play for that flag.”

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Golf – talkSPORT

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