Ryder Cup gauntlet laid down as captains name Friday Foursome pairings

Ryder Cup gauntlet laid down as captains name Friday Foursome pairings

Captains Davis Love III and Darren Clarke have unveiled their opening pairings for the 41st Ryder Cup

Tom Hiscott

The opening pairings for the 41st Ryder Cup were announced at the denoument of the opening ceremony in Minnesota

There were very few surprises in the selections made by captains Davis Love III and Darren Clarke, ahead of the Friday Foursomes which will kick start proceedings at Hazeltine

The scene at the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony (image source: Streeter Ledkar/Getty Images)

Rose and Stenson to lead off for Europe in high-class opener

As predicted, Clarke went with two of his big winners in Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson for the opening matchup, with the Olympic and Open champions taking on 2014 rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth

The duo of Rose and Stenson got Europe kickstarted two years ago at Gleneagles, and Clarke will be hoping for more of the same this time around. 

In the second foursome, good friends Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler will team up for the USA to take on recent FedEx Cup winner Rory McIlroy and English rookie Andy Sullivan

Big-hitting Pieters to team up with Westwood in final European pairing

The third grouping sees this year's PGA Champion Jimmy Walker and 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson heading out for the home team to take on perenial Ryder Cup winners, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer

In the final matchup, Belgian Thomas Pieters will make his Ryder Cup debut alongside a stalwart of the competition and one of Clarke's captain's picks in Lee Westwood. The pairing of Westwood and Pieters will take on Matt Kuchar and world number two Dustin Johnson

The four men on the sidelines for the United States are Brooks Koepka, Ryan Moore, JB Holmes and Brandt Snedeker, while Matthew Fitzpatrick, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Danny Willett all still await the opportunity to make their Ryder Cup debuts. 

Willett's non-selection behind Pieters is a slight surprise, with the Masters champion's place in the opening set of matches possibly coming down to his state of mind. A satirical column by his brother in the build-up to this week's competition has clearly got to Willett who admitted he would likely be a target for the home fans, and captain Clarke may have felt it best to keep Willett out of the spotlight on the opening morning's play. 

If Europe can get anywhere near the seven points, from a possible eight, they secured in the two Foursome sessions two years ago, they will be well on their way to claiming a fourth straight Ryder Cup victory.