McIlroy faces Mickelson in fourballs | September 25, 2014

The US Ryder Cup team watch on during the opening ceremony at Gleneagles

The US Ryder Cup team watch on during the opening ceremony at Gleneagles

The European Ryder Cup team pose for an official photo at Gleneagles on Thursday

The European Ryder Cup team pose for an official photo at Gleneagles on Thursday

Team Europe applaud Amc Macdonald as she comes on to sing in the opening ceremony

Team Europe applaud Amc Macdonald as she comes on to sing in the opening ceremony

•Rory McIlroy will come up against Phil Mickelson after war of words

Mickelson poked fun at McIlroy’s legal wrangle with Graeme McDowell

•McIlroy will team up with Sergio Garcia, Mickelson with Keegan Bradley

•Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson play Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

•Rickie Fowler with Jimmy Walker, to face Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer

•Ian Poulter with Stephen Gallagher, vs Jordan Speith and Patrick Reed

•Fourballs starts early on Friday morning

•Team USA looking to make up for defeat to Europe in Medinah 

World number one Rory McIlroy has been pitted against American veteran Phil Mickelson in the opening fourballs of the 40th Ryder Cup on Friday.

McIlroy and Spain’s Sergio Garcia are up against Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the morning’s fourth match.

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson will begin Europe’s defence against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson at 07:35 BST.

English Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter has been paired with Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher.

Gallacher, the only Scot in the European team, and Poulter, who has won 12 of 15 Ryder Cup matches, are up against two debutants in Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in match three.

Friday’s foursomes (Europe first)

Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson v Bubba Watson & Webb Simpson

Thomas Bjorn & Martin Kaymer v Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker

Stephen Gallacher & Ian Poulter v Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed

Sergio Garcia & Rory McIlroy v Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson

United States captain Tom Watson has thrown all three of his rookies into the first session, with Jimmy Walker partnering Rickie Fowler against Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn in match two.

“I think fourballs is a good place for the rookies to get their feet wet, playing every shot,” said Watson, 65.

“I have every confidence in the world in them doing very well. Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar will probably be played in the afternoon foursomes.”

Explaining his decision to pair Poulter with Gallacher, Europe captain Paul McGinley, 47, said: “Ian will enjoy the atmosphere Stevie will create with a Scottish following. Ian is looking forward to that role.”

“I’m absolutely buzzing,” said 38-year-old Poulter. “Playing with Stevie in Scotland in his first Ryder Cup, it’s going to be amazing.

“I can’t wait to walk on the tee to loud, rapturous applause and smash it down the middle.”

McIlroy and Mickelson, playing in his 10th Ryder Cup, were involved in a minor spat on Wednesday, which will give their contest a bit of extra spice.

Mickelson made a joke about McIlroy’s court case against former management company Horizon, which still has Ryder Cup team-mate Graeme McDowell on its books.

“It’s going to be a difficult match against what we perceive as the strongest team that Europe has,” said the 44-year-old Mickelson.

“We have our work cut out for us, but we’re on top of our games as well and hopefully we’ll have a good match.”

McIlroy and Garcia are a new pairing while Mickelson and Bradley won all three of their matches together at Medinah in 2012.

“They are obviously a very strong pairing,” said McIlroy, 25.

“They’ve never been beaten together and we’re looking to hand them their first defeat tomorrow morning, so it will be a tough match, they’re both great competitors.

“I couldn’t ask for a better partner. Sergio is one of my closest friends on Tour and we always got along well. I think that it was only a matter of time before we got together in Ryder Cup.”

McGinley expects to make changes for the afternoon foursomes as he looks to use all 12 players in his team on the opening day.

“My plan is to get all 12 out,” he said. “But I wouldn’t say it’s written in stone, because you can never say never.”

He added: “The Ryder Cup’s not going to be determined tomorrow, and there will be decisions I’ll get wrong as captain. That’s what happens.

I’m prepared for that. But I’d like to think that I’ll be able to adjust things and go forward.”

BBC Report

Here come the girls: both the wives and girlfriends of the respective sides make their way in.

Here come the girls: both the wives and girlfriends of the respective sides make their way in.

Here are the two skippers - Tom Watson and Paul McGinley - Gleneagles  Ceremony

Here are the two skippers – Tom Watson and Paul McGinley – Gleneagles Ceremony

Team Europe take their place on stage at Gleneagles prior to the start of the Ryder Cup

Team Europe take their place on stage at Gleneagles prior to the start of the Ryder Cup

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