Ryder Cup 2018: The lineup for the first of five sessions at the Ryder Cup 2018 is set. Friday morning’s session will feature the four-ball format, also known as best-ball. This is traditionally the format in which the USA has succeeded, compared to the alternate-shot Foursomes format. It was in Foursomes where they got absolutely waxed in the last Ryder Cup in Europe in 2014.
The Four-ball format is your pretty basic weekend game that you play with your friend at the local muni. Each player plays his own ball all the way up the hole, and the better of the two goes up against the better of the other team’s two. It’s simple and promotes aggressive play. One guy can really let it rip or get aggressive going for birdies, which are plentiful in Four-ball compared to the much tougher Foursomes alternate shot.
The tee times will begin just after 8 a.m. local in Paris, France. That means if you’re back in the United States, you got some strategizing to do on how to approach this. The afternoon session will be Foursomes and make for a full 11-hour day of golf on TV. I’d recommend catching a late Thursday afternoon nap after work and then settling in for the long haul to power through into Friday afternoon.
Ryder Cup 2018
Here’s your lineup for the opening four-ball session — all times ET:
2:10 a.m.: Brooks Koepka & Tony Finau (USA) vs. Justin Rose & Jon Rahm (EUR)
2:25 a.m.: Dustin Johnson & Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy & Thorbjorn Olesen (EUR)
2:40 a.m.: Jordan Spieth & Justin Thomas (USA) vs. Paul Casey & Tyrrell Hatton (EUR)
2:55 a.m.: Patrick Reed & Tiger Woods (USA) vs. Francesco Molinari & Tommy Fleetwood (EUR)
I am surprised Phil Mickelson is not playing four-ball, meaning he’ll likely play foursomes alternate shot, which is not his strength. It looks like rookie Bryson DeChambeau, the only American rookie not playing the first session, will be Phil’s partner.
I am stunned there’s a rookie in every group on the European side.
I am floored that both Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, the heartbeat of these European teams over the last 10 to 15 years, are both on the bench to start that all-important leadoff session. I know some of the players from that dominant era are aging out, but it feels weird to have that critical session without either one of Poulter or Sergio.
I am surprised that Alex Noren is a rookie sitting on the bench for Europe. He’s the reigning French Open champion, which is played at this course, and seems like an excellent four-ball option.
Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed in the anchor match is soooo tasty! But a Molinari-Fleetwood duo on the other side is delectable as well. That feels like the best match on paper.
I love Finau-Koepka, perhaps the most unemotional and deadly duo you hear the least about on the USA roster, leading off the entire competition.
Justin Rose is a five-match player for the European team, so he needs to be in that leadoff session and probably every session thereafter. So it’s not surprising to see him break up, albeit momentarily, with his longtime partner in Henrik Stenson, who is still dealing with an elbow problem. The Rose-Rahm pairing is also fantastic on paper and you have to think they’re going to make a ton of birdies.
I want to see more Webb Simpson, but he appears anchored to Bubba Watson, who is under the weather and doesn’t exactly sound confident about his game at the moment. If they get pushed into the lineup for foursomes, that might not look pretty! I don’t know where or how I would have put him in this first USA lineup, but poor Webb.
I thiiiiiink I would have put Poulter or Sergio with Rory to open the Ryder Cup, but understand having him guide a rookie who can be wild off the tee for the beginning four-ball. Understand it but don’t love it.
All of this is a guessing game — albeit a fun one — and none of it will matter in about 18 hours!
Update: Here are your initial lines for the first session, via Jeff Sherman of the Las Vegas SuperBook.