Ryder Cup day one: Luke Donald puts faith in his rookies as the action starts

Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka are be in action for Europe in the morning foursomes.

Phil Casey
Friday 29 September 2023 04:30 BST
Luke Donald leads Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)
Luke Donald leads Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)

Europe captain Luke Donald urged his “fearless” players to write their own Ryder Cup history after showing faith in two of his rookies for the opening session in Rome.

While the pairings of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood came as no surprise, Donald also handed Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka an early taste of the action at Marco Simone.

The fiery pairing of Rahm and Hatton will face world number one Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in the first foursomes match, with Aberg and Viktor Hovland up against Max Homa and Open champion Brian Harman.

Straka and Shane Lowry were paired in match three versus Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa, with McIlroy and Fleetwood up against arguably the United States’ strongest pair in Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

Donald would not take the bait when asked if the 12 players were his gladiators, but said: “I would say they’re very fearless.

“They’re extremely good golfers. The atmosphere in the team room is fantastic. Everyone is in good spirits.

“It’s been an amazing journey. Couldn’t be more excited and happy for these 12 guys to go out and enjoy this week because I remember I had so many fond memories playing and being a vice-captain.

“As a captain it’s a little bit more of a stressful job, but I’m excited. I’m excited for the guys just to take this all in, enjoy it, and try and write their own history this week.”

United States captain Zach Johnson sprang a surprise by leaving the successful pair of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas on the sidelines, with two of this year’s major winners – Brooks Koepka and Wyndham Clark – also sitting out.

“The eight guys I have down on paper are the ones that we feel best put us in the position to get off to a great start obviously.

“I have the utmost confidence in these eight and the utmost confidence in Jordan and Justin. I know we’re talking about a great tandem, but it’s a situation where it’s not about their form. They’re playing great. It’s really just a matter of trying to dissect all five sessions.”

Foursomes match times (all times BST, Europe names first)

0635: Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton v Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns

0650: Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg v Max Homa and Brian Harman

0705: Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka v Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa

0720: Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood v Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay

What is the format?

Four foursomes matches and four fourball matches are contested on each of the first two days, with 12 singles matches taking place on Sunday.

With 28 points available, 14 and a half are required to secure outright victory but, as the holders, the United States would retain the trophy if it ended in a 14-14 tie.

Weather forecastHigh pressure remains in control of the weather throughout the three days of competition, with lots of sunshine, warm temperatures and fairly light winds. No rain is expected.

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