Thomas Bjorn throws debutants into the action at Ryder Cup

Phil Casey 11:01 28/09/2018
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Europe captain Thomas Bjorn pinned his hopes of a fast start on his rookies in the opening session of the 42nd Ryder Cup on Friday.

While experienced wild cards Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia were left on the sidelines, Bjorn opted to throw debutants Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen straight into the action at Le Golf National.

Justin Rose, who won £7.6million on Sunday by claiming the FedEx Cup title in Atlanta, partnered Stenson in the first match at Gleneagles in 2014 and at Hazeltine two years ago.

But the Olympic champion was handed a new partner in Rahm for Friday’s opening fourballs contest as Europe looked to regain the trophy and maintain an unbeaten record on home soil which stretches back to 1993.

Rose and Rahm were up against three-time major winner Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, with Rory McIlroy and Olesen facing world number one Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in match two.

The all-English pairing of Paul Casey and Hatton then had the daunting task of taking on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, with Fleetwood and Open champion Francesco Molinari having an equally tough task against ‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed and a rejuvenated Tiger Woods.

Europe crucially lost the opening session 4-0 on their way to defeat at Hazeltine in 2016, but Bjorn does not feel his selections represent any sort of a gamble.

“I think I ran into one of these problems that everyone says is a positive problem; that everyone is playing well and everyone is feeling good,” Bjorn said.

“They have been just itching to go, especially Thorbjorn and Jon and Tyrrell, they are just really desperate to get out on that golf course. I wanted to get them out there.

“Tommy is a different guy in the way that he’s won around here [2017 French Open] and he’s been real quality for the last couple of years. He’s very calm and relaxed. He and Francesco are great together and they feel really comfortable and good.

“This is what we go with Friday morning, and it’s a marathon. It really is. I just believe very much in this team. I believe in them as a group. I believe in them as individuals, and I just really felt like this was what I saw.”

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