Europe’s captain, Luke Donald, has urged his team to go out and write their own history at the Ryder Cup – and pledged that his “very fearless” players are ready to win back the trophy.
Donald made his intentions clear by announcing that a fiery pairing of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton would lead Europe out for the Friday morning’s foursomes against the world No 1, Scottie Scheffler, and Sam Burns. But he said that all 12 of his men were primed and ready after a strong week of practice. “They’re very fearless,” he said. “They’re extremely good golfers. We’ve had a great few days together. The atmosphere in the team room is fantastic. Everyone is in good spirits. They’re motivated. There’s a lot of good energy. Everyone feels like they’re playing well. I’m excited for the guys just to take this all in, enjoy it, and write their own history this week.”
Donald also denied suggestions that Rahm and Hatton might be too combustible playing together, as he predicted the two men would complement each other.
“They’re both world-class players,” he said. “Both fantastic ball strikers. They are very passionate. I think Jon feeds off a playing partner with a similar kind of fire and passion. He wants to feel like he’s out there with a teammate that’s really engaged with him. Tyrrell really fits that bill.
“Jon and Tyrrell are fiery characters. But their personalities match up and the statistics point towards a very strong partnership.”
In Europe’s second pairing of the morning, Viktor Hovland plays with the exciting Ryder Cup rookie Ludvig Åberg against Max Homa and Brian Harman. Another European newcomer, Sepp Straka, will line up alongside Shane Lowry in the third match against Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa.
The final match is the most tantalising, with Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood facing Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
“I have a lot of faith in my team, but at the same time I certainly don’t underestimate the US,” added Donald. “There’s a lot of players that played two years ago in Whistling Straits. They have some pairings that have astronomical win percentages and have had a lot of success.”
Meanwhile the US captain, Zach Johnson, denied that his decision not to pick Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who have a record of 3-1 as a pair at the Ryder Cup, was down to their poor form.
“The gist of it is we’ve got 12 guys,” he said. “Unfortunately, I can’t play all 12 each session. So at some point, somebody’s got to sit. It’s a golf course that demands a lot out of you physically. I have the utmost confidence in Jordan and Justin.”