SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The subtext to Friday’s opening four-ball session at the Ryder Cup isn’t who will play the morning matches, it’s who is not playing.
For Europe, captain Thomas Bjorn decided to sit Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, the final three serving as anchors of the Continent’s team for over a decade.
“They are all difficult to leave out, especially guys that have played in so many,” Bjorn said. “I’m quite sure that you’ll see them on the golf course at some stage before Sunday. They fall into the group like anybody else and they know what they are and what they represent, and what they can go out and deliver. It’s all about building for the whole week.”
For the United States, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson will watch the Day 1 morning session from the sidelines.
Sitting Mickelson – who has played the week’s first session every match since 1995 when he was a rookie – is particularly interesting considering he has an 8-8-2 record in four-ball play (compared to a 5-7-4 foursomes record) and is likely playing his final overseas Ryder Cup.
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“Phil is 100 percent on board. We had a great talk after a range session today, kind of right before lunch,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said. “We’ve played a lot of these team events together. It’s special for him to have the opportunity at 48 years old. He wants whatever is best for the team.”
Neither captain tipped their hands when asked if they planned to play all 12 players on Day 1, although it seems likely both have plans to rotate the players who are sitting on Friday morning into the afternoon foursomes session.
“It doesn’t seem like I would want to tip my cap and tell you if everyone is going to play tomorrow,” Furyk said. “It would be really easy to probably come close to figuring out some pairings, I would guess.”