With the first foursomes matches announced during the opening ceremony earlier, we can now look forward to what looks set to be a thrilling first session of the 2023 Ryder Cup tomorrow morning. Jamie Worsley is back with a preview of each match and his tip for the morning session.
Friday Foursomes Matches
Match #1: Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) vs Scottie Scheffler/ Sam Burns (USA)
The match that will kick off the 2023 Ryder Cup sees the team of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton take on world #1 Scottie Scheffler, and good friend Sam Burns.
Hatton and Rahm both made their Ryder Cup debut in the 2018 victory for Team Europe at Le Golf National and were on the losing side in 2021 at Whistling Straits. They have only played together once over those two events, tying a fourballs match in 2021.
Neither played in the foursomes in 2018 and Hatton only played the format once in 2021, though Rahm played twice alongside Sergio Garcia, winning both matches.
Burns is making his debut in this event and Scheffler just his second appearance after 2021. They did however play in the last Presidents Cup and were paired together three times, losing each match. Including two in foursomes.
Verdict: I can’t see past a European win in the first match of the event. Hatton and Rahm both have little weakness in their game and come into this week looking good after respective 2nd and 4th-place finishes at Wentworth on their latest start. We know how well Scheffler has played tee-to-green this year and Burns has been solid enough of late, but the putter may still be a huge issue for Scottie and with that 0-3-0 record when playing together at the Presidents Cup, it’s impossible to favour them against this feisty opening Euro duo.
Match #2: Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Aberg (EUR) vs Max Homa/Brian Harman (USA)
The second match sees the supreme ball-striking Scandi duo of Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg take on the pairing of Max Homa and Brian Harman. All bar Hovland are making their first appearance in the event.
Hovland’s debut was one to forget for the team in 2021, though he did personally play solid golf himself despite losing both foursomes matches. Whilst the American duo have zero Ryder Cup experience between them, Homa did make his Presidents Cup debut last year and impressed, winning each of his four matches, comprising two wins in foursomes.
The power-packed European pairing are a hugely exciting one. Hovland finished the previous PGA Tour season in fine form, claiming back-to-back titles at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship to claim a first FedExCup, whilst Aberg has been all the rage since turning pro and recorded his first pro victory in the European Masters at the start of the month.
Homa and Harman are two of the best putters in the event and have some of their own recent form to shout about, with Harman claiming that incredible Open Championship win just four starts ago and Homa putting up five top 10s on the spin.
Verdict: I think this match may be a little closer than people expect; with two putters as good as Homa/Harman they sure have the potential to frustrate. Having said that, the quality of ball-striking from the young Europeans should be much too hard to contend with and they get the nod to take match #2.
Match #3: Shane Lowry/Sepp Straka (EUR) vs Rickie Fowler/Collin Morikawa (USA)
Our third match of the day sees Austrian debutant, Sepp Straka, alongside Ireland’s Shane Lowry, take on the Californian twosome of Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa.
We’re a little in the dark in regards to past experience here, as none of these have played together in any capacity in this type of event. Straka’s a debutant, Lowry made his Ryder Cup debut in 2021 and whilst Rickie has plenty of experience, that didn’t cross over with Morikawa’s Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits.
Morikawa has the standout foursomes record of the quartet, with two wins from two in 2021 and winning one of his two matches in the 2022 Presidents Cup. Though Rickie only has one win in six foursomes matches, I do think their games should marry well together, particularly if able to use his quality putting to take advantage of the superb approaches Morikawa is bound to hit.
As for the Europeans, Lowry didn’t play foursomes in 2021 and lost both matches in the Hero Cup at the start of the year, whilst Straka won one. Though both players have been hitting the ball well enough in recent months and Straka is strong on the greens.
Verdict: This matchup is a little tricky to weigh up. Lowry may be as passionate about this event as just about anyone else this week and will be desperate to have a better experience than last time; whilst this call up is the final point of what has no doubt been a career year for Straka.
My vote has to go to the Americans though, the standard of golf has been higher from the two in past weeks and with his steady, ultra-precise ball-striking, Morikawa is perfect for foursomes, as his record largely suggests.
Match #4: Rory McIlroy/Tommy Fleetwood (EUR) vs Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (USA)
The final match of the morning is the most exciting and may well set the tone for the rest of the event, as Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood go up against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
Rory is appearing in his seventh Ryder Cup and Tommy his third, though they have never played together before. This is in stark contrast to Schauffele/Cantlay, who have played together in nine matches across Ryder and Presidents Cups combined, winning six matches; including a 5/5 record in foursomes.
McIlroy’s overall foursomes record is solid enough, with five wins in eleven matches and though Fleetwood didn’t play in the format in 2021, he won both matches when paired with Francesco Molinari in 2018. As two of the most in-form players in the event and looking good across their game, there’s no reason why they can’t form a strong partnership this week.
Verdict: This is a tough, tough match to call and could be hugely important for the US if the first three matches go as I expect. Both teams are evenly matched and have a level of recent form similar to each other. This could be our first halved match of the week but I would make a tentative prediction that Team USA get a point on the board.
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