Ryder Cup: Garcia and Rahm to team up as Europe pick veterans for opening matches

By Sports Desk September 23, 2021

Europe will look to their Ryder Cup veterans to set the tone when play begins at Whistling Straits on Friday. 

Captain Padraig Harrington's four oldest players, all in their 40s, will feature for Europe in the morning foursomes against a youthful USA group whose oldest player, Dustin Johnson, is 37. 

All-time Ryder Cup scoring leader Sergio Garcia, 41, will lead the charge with world number one Jon Rahm as the Spanish pair face Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the opening match in Wisconsin. 

"We would have been aware that JT and Jordan would have gone first, obviously, so we were going to lead ourselves with a strong partnership," Harrington told a news conference. "The whole world will be watching that one."

Teeing off next, Paul Casey (44) will team with rookie Viktor Hovland against Johnson and Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa, followed by Lee Westwood (48) and Matthew Fitzpatrick against Brooks Koepka and Danel Berger. 

The final matchup of the opening session will pit Ian Poulter (45) and Rory McIlroy against the rookie American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. 

"We've gone with an experienced setup, no doubt about it, but it was our strong setup," Harrington said. "It just happened to be experienced. I was happy with that, there's no doubt, when it came out like that and you're looking at it and you go, yeah, that's very experienced. That is a big bonus.

"But it didn't weaken our fourballs – that was very important. We still have a strong fourball setup and we haven't taken from the afternoon by going with a strong setup in the morning." 

Europe will leave Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger on the sidelines for the opening matches, while the USA will do the same with Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler. 

While the Europe captain said it was safe to assume his players who will sit out the morning will play in the afternoon fourballs, his US counterpart Steve Stricker declined to be drawn on that topic – though both captains said their foursome and fourball pairings were set and communicated to their teams early in the week.

Each also said he was focused on his own side as opposed to worrying about what the other team might be doing, though both put special emphasis on the first and fourth matches. 

"We talked occasionally about maybe who they're going to put out, but it doesn't matter," Stricker said. "I mean, they're all such great players, they're all highly ranked players and we know that we're going to have to play our best to to beat them.

"We had an idea that Rory and Rahm would probably go one and four, and that's pretty much all we knew, or really thought about. We didn't know who their guys were going to be paired with but we kind of had that figured out, so we tried to act accordingly as well."

Asked whether any of his players had expressed disappointment in not being included in the morning pairings, Stricker immediately responded "not at all." 

"These guys have been incredible," he added. "I can't stress it enough, really, and it's about the communication that we've had, the captains and myself, and being upfront with them and just letting them know what we're thinking, so there's no curveballs.

"We've heard it multiple times from all the players: If you want to play me once, or all five, you know, that's up to you – meaning the captains – and just so we can try to win this Cup."

Friday's foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) v. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) v. Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR)
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) v. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) v. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR)

Related items

  • Justin Lower leads from Harrington, Kuchar in weather-interrupted Valero Texas Open first round Justin Lower leads from Harrington, Kuchar in weather-interrupted Valero Texas Open first round

    Justin Lower leads the Valero Texas Open through nine holes with play suspended due to darkness as Padraig Harrington and Matt Kuchar joined the group one stroke behind on Thursday.

    The opening round was called off early in fading light, with play having been delayed numerous times in the morning due to fog in South Texas.

    Lower, 33, got through the first half of his round, managing an eagle on the par-five 14th hole along with three birdies for a five under start.

    Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, 51, wound back the clock in his 333rd start in his 28th season. The Irishman, playing in familiar conditions, carded a four-under 68 with six birdies.

    Fellow veteran Matt Kuchar had a similar round with six birdies and two bogeys for a four-under 68 to be tied for second.

    The 44-year-old American and Harrington are alongside South Africa's M.J. Daffue, Mexico's Roberto Diaz and USA's Patrick Rodgers.

    Fresh from winning last week's Corales Puntacana Championship, Matt Wallace is in a group of eight players, including Canada's Corey Conners (through nine holes), one stroke behind at three under overall.

    Pre-tournament favourite Tyrrell Hatton only got through 10 holes to be two under, while Rickie Fowler and defending champion J.J Spaun were both even after 11 holes.

  • Port Maria Hospital and Care for Kids Junior Golf to benefit from Sandals Golf and Jerk Festival Port Maria Hospital and Care for Kids Junior Golf to benefit from Sandals Golf and Jerk Festival

    The third staging of the Sandals Foundation Golf and Jerk Festival is expected to bring together over 100 of the island’s best golfers competing for Sandals and Beaches Resorts stays and an extraordinary two Hole-In-One bonus prizes of JMD$2million cash and a 2023 Kia Sportage.

    Set for the Sandals Upton Estate Golf and Country Club in St. Ann on Saturday, May 6, 2023, the event, which is a fundraiser for the philanthropic arm, will support the Port Maria Hospital and the continued development of the Care for Kids Junior Golf programme.

    “This festival reinforces our mandate to not only create opportunities for our young people to thrive through sports but it also connects them to a larger responsibility to give back to those in need,” says Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation.

    “With proceeds this year going towards the purchase of security systems for the Port Maria Hospital, we are making a solid investment in ensuring our medical professionals, staff and patients are in a safe and secure environment.”

    The jerk competition will see 12 teams of two compete for a grand prize of $50,000 while the golf tournament will take on a four-person scramble with at least one junior player independently chosen or selected from the foundation’s Care for Kids Junior Golf Programme.

    “We are proud of our junior golfers who are learning great discipline through the sport and opening avenues to represent Jamaica on the international arena. We want to provide them and other young golfers a place at the table to showcase their skills and compete with the best of the best,” said Clarke.

    Already its organizers have accomplished an extraordinary feat pulling in two Hole-In-One prizes with United States based golf and utilities company, Tropicars offering over JMD$4 million cash with a 50/50 split towards the winner and the charities. The second Hole-In-One comes from ATL Automotive with the stunning 2023 Kia Sportage up for the take.

    A host of prestigious local partners has also joined the bill including Best Dressed Chicken, CPJ, Rainforest, Starbucks, Wisynco, and AC Hotels.

    Registration for Golf Teams is US$500 with a 10 per cent early bird discount up to April 16. Interested Jerk chefs can register at $10,000 per team.

     For more information, contact Johnny Newnham This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Natasha Burnett This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Olympics chief Bach labels politicians 'deplorable' over calls to deny Russian athletes right to compete Olympics chief Bach labels politicians 'deplorable' over calls to deny Russian athletes right to compete

    Olympics chief Thomas Bach has attacked politicians pushing for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be prevented from returning to international sport, saying their attitude is "deplorable".

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Bach launched a tirade on Thursday at the "negative reactions" to plans to allow competitors from Russia and Belarus to compete in global sporting events as neutral individual athletes.

    There has been no final decision taken yet on whether those athletes can take part in next year's Olympics; however, there will be potential pathways for them to qualify for the Games, and it could yet mean there are Russians and Belarusians taking part in the Paris Games while war continues in Ukraine.

    Government figures in the UK, Germany and beyond have expressed opposition to such athletes being allowed to take part, although IOC guidance on Tuesday potentially opened that door.

    For those politicians there was a fierce rebuke from Bach.

    Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Bach said: "Today the IOC executive board discussed the reactions to our recommendations issued on Tuesday.

    "There we have taken note of some negative reactions by some European governments in particular. I can only reaffirm there what the Olympic movement and all the stakeholders have made very clear before: that it is deplorable to see some governments do not want to respect the majority within the Olympic movement and of all stakeholders, nor the autonomy of sport which they are praising and requesting from other countries in countless speeches, UN resolutions, EU declarations, and at every other opportunity.

    "It is deplorable that these governments do not address the question of double standards with which we have been confronted in our consultations.

    "We have not seen a single comment from them about their attitude towards the participation of athletes whose countries are involved in the other 70 wars and armed conflicts in the world.

    "It is even more deplorable that they grossly neglect the very clear statement of the two special rapporteurs from the UN human rights council. While in other issues they are always highlighting their firm request for the respect of human rights

    "Discussions and reactions from the Olympic movement are making it very clear, that these government interventions have strengthened the unity of the Olympic movement.

    "All stakeholders make it very clear again: it cannot be up to the governments to decide which athletes can participate in which competition. This would be the end of world sport as we know it today.

    "The Olympic movement stakeholders are very concerned about this politicisation of sport. They are very concerned about the attitude of these governments wanting to take over the participation and the decision of participation in sport events in their country or even in other countries."

    Bach pointed to a letter from the presidents of the five regional groupings on national Olympic committees, representing all 206 NOCs, in which he said it was stated that "international sports competitions welcome athletes from all countries".

    Asked why it was only athletes from Russia and Belarus that were being asked to compete as neutrals, rather than those from other conflicts and wars to which he referred, Bach said that was "because this was a blatant violation of the Olympic truce and happened between the Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Games".

    That was a reference to the timing of the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

    With regard to Germany and the UK, Bach said: "Both NOCs have made it very clear they do not boycott, and we will not punish athletes or an NOC for the position of their governments.

    "We will always make every effort not to punish athletes for misbehaviour of their national governments."

    Bach, who is German, said "a vast, vast majority of all stakeholders of the Olympic movement" supported the IOC putting in place conditions for the possible return to international competition of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports.

    He added: "I can only reaffirm the entire Olympic movement strongly stands by its values and by its mission to unite the world in a peaceful competition."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.