The Latest: Lefty, big-name Europeans to miss opening salvos
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — The Latest on the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National (all times local):
The opening session of the Ryder Cup will be missing some of Europe’s biggest names.
“Lefty” is sitting it out, too. This will be the first time since Phil Mickelson’s first appearance in 1995 that he won’t be on the course at the beginning of Day 1. At 48, he is the oldest member of the American team.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk also left out Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson for the Friday morning fourball matches.
Furyk’s European counterpart, Thomas Bjorn, decided not to play Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson in the first session.
Garcia has the most points of any player on the European team (22 1/2), but the 2017 Masters champion has missed the cut in all four majors this year.
Poulter has piled up 13 points from 18 matches, most notably sparking the “Miracle at Medinah” in 2012 with birdies on the final five holes of a fourball match alongside Rory McIlroy. Stenson is a major winner with a Ryder Cup mark of 5-4-2 in three previous appearances.
Also sitting out Friday morning: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States and Alex Noren of Europe.
Home team captain Thomas Bjorn says the Ryder Cup stands as an example of how Europe “stands as one,” amid tensions and uncertainty in the continent caused by Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Six British players are in the European team at Le Golf National this week. Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Bjorn says: “This great continent can at times be a fragmented place, but when it comes to the Ryder Cup it’s different. When it comes to the Ryder Cup, Europe stands as one.”
Tiger Woods returns to the Ryder Cup by playing the anchor match of the opening session of fourballs with Patrick Reed.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk has split up the partnership of Reed and Jordan Spieth, who have gone 4-1-2 in team play at their two Ryder Cups. Spieth instead will be partners with longtime friend Justin Thomas, a friendship that took root in France when they were 14.
Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau have the opening fourballs match Friday against Justin Rose and Jon Rahm. The second match features Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler against Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen. It’s the second straight time that McIlroy has taken a European rookie as a partner in the opening session.
Spieth and Thomas face Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, while Woods and Reed take on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.
Brooks Koepka’s status sure has changed since his Ryder Cup debut in 2016.
He’s now a three-time major champion, which gives him a lot more gravitas heading into this year’s event at Le Golf National.
Koepka said Thursday he feels like his opinion on issues such as playing partners and course strategy are “definitely more important” than two years ago. He also feels more comfortable opening up with what’s on his mind.
Since going 3-1-0 in his Ryder Cup debut, Koepka has won back-to-back U.S. Opens, as well as this year’s PGA Championship.
He figures to be one of the key players this weekend for the U.S. team, which hasn’t won in Europe since 1993.
Thorbjorn Olesen was the only European player without a date when the Ryder Cup teams met for dinner at the Palace of Versailles.
So he was able to play the field.
Olesen photobombed a group picture of his teammates’ wives and girlfriends, which was posted on the European team’s Twitter account.
The 28-year-old Dane says he just “had to jump in there and take that beautiful picture. So I was a pretty happy man for a few minutes.”
Olesen was the last player to qualify for the European team, giving him a chance to play for his mentor. Thomas Bjorn, the most famous golfer to come out of Denmark, is serving as captain for the home team at Le Golf National.
Olesen says he experienced “a different kind of pressure” trying to make his first Ryder Cup team. He calls it a “good learning experience” that shows he can handle a pressure-packed situation.
With the sun beating down on Le Golf National, European and American players are getting in their final practice before the start of the Ryder Cup.
Tiger Woods might be taking it easy, though.
Woods chose not to take a tee shot in front of thousands of spectators who were gathered around what is set to be an atmospheric first tee.
Instead, he let playing partners Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas take their shots and walked down the fairway with them.
The opening ceremony and the draw for Friday’s morning fourballs take place later Thursday.