Ryder rookies in at deep end for fourball openers

Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:39pm EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - American captain Tom Watson has rolled the dice for Friday's opening salvos at the Ryder Cup by teaming rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed together and throwing Jimmy Walker into the fray for the morning fourballs.

European captain Paul McGinley gave Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher an early taste of the atmosphere by putting him out with cheerleader-in-chief Ian Poulter - against Spieth and Reed, and said fellow debutantes Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson would play in the afternoon foursomes.

McGinley also sprung a surprise by pairing world number one Rory McIlroy with Sergio Garcia in the final group for what should be a humdinger against Phil Mickelson, making a record 10th Cup appearance for the U.S., and Keegan Bradley.

"I really want to see what they've got. I told them 'I'm going to throw you in the ocean without a life preserver -- you're on your own,'" Watson said of his fledgling duo.

"They have a job to do, and I tell you, these kids are tough kids, both of them."

McGinley said he wanted to get Gallacher exposed early and knew Poulter, who has won 12 of his 15 Ryder Cup matches, was the ideal partner.

"There's going to be a big atmosphere in that group. We'll need a guy with a big attitude for that, and I think Ian Poulter fits that bill and is looking forward to that role."

Unsurprisingly, Europe's "Mr Ryder Cup" was excited.   Continued...

Team Europe players Henrik Stenson (L) and Justin Rose react after being announced as the first pairing for Europe during the opening ceremony of the 40th Ryder Cup, at Gleneagles in Scotland September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville