Ryder Cup 2018: Tiger Woods to face Francesco Molinari in opening fourballs


All times BST
2018 Ryder Cup
Venue: Le Golf National, Paris Dates: 28-30 September First tee: 07:10 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and live text updates on BBC Sport website from 06:30 on Friday and Saturday, 10:00 on Sunday; daily highlights on BBC Two and online from 20:30 on Friday and Saturday; 19:30 on Sunday

Americans Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed will play Europe’s Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in Friday morning’s fourballs at the Ryder Cup in France.

FedEx Cup winner Justin Rose and Jon Rahm face Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau in the first of 28 matches.

Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen play Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler before Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

The US are the defending champions but have not won in Europe for 25 years.

Led by captain and former US Open champion Jim Furyk, the US team has 31 major victories between them compared to Europe’s eight and boasts three of this year’s major champions – US Open and US PGA Championship winner Koepka, plus Masters champion Reed.

Europe, meanwhile, have Open champion Molinari among their 12-man team as France hosts the tournament for the first time.

The Italian held off Woods’ challenge en route to victory at Carnoustie in July and has been paired with Fleetwood, who is one of four rookies placed with more experienced partners by European captain Thomas Bjorn.

Rahm, Olesen and Hatton are also debutants, while Sweden’s Alex Noren is the only European rookie to sit out.

Tiger Woods was at the Ryder Cup opening ceremony with girlfriend Erica Herman

Woods, 42, has returned to form after several back surgeries, winning his first tournament in five years at the Tour Championship last Sunday.

The 14-time major champion is part of a US team which also has the edge in terms of world rankings; their average ranking per player is 11, eight places higher than Europe’s 19.

But Europe’s home advantage is helped by the fact that only three of the American team have played competitive rounds at Le Golf National – Koepka, Bubba Watson and Thomas.

Tyrrell Hatton is the only member of the European Tour not to record a top-10 finish at the Versailles course on the outskirts of Paris, which hosts the French Open – Noren and Fleetwood have won that tournament in the past two years.

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari share a joke with team-mates as their fourballs partnership is announced

What did they say?

Europe captain Thomas Bjorn: “This continent can be a fragmented place. When it comes to the Ryder Cup, we stand as one. Together we have achieved many great things. More than anything we will play for that flag.”

US captain Jim Furyk: “Inside the ropes we may compete against each other, outside them we stand together.”

Europe’s Tommy Fleetwood, speaking to the Golf Channel: “I am looking forward to my son’s first birthday [on Friday]: Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed in the Ryder Cup and my son’s first birthday – it will be a day to remember.”

Tiger Woods on his first Ryder Cup since 2012: “It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be an awesome environment. There’s a lot of nerves. It’s excitement.”

How does the Ryder Cup work?

A total of 28 matches, each worth one point, will take place in France over three days, meaning the first team to reach 14½ points will win the Ryder Cup. If matches finish tied, each team scores half a point.

Should the competition finish 14-14, the USA will retain the trophy after winning on home soil at Hazeltine in 2016.

Fourball and foursome matches take place over the first two days. In the fourball matches, teams of two play each other and the player that shoots the lowest score on each hole wins it for their team – if the scores are tied then the hole is halved.

The foursome matches also involve two-man teams. However, only one ball per team is in play with players taking alternate shots. Again, the lowest score wins the hole.

The 12 singles matches take place on Sunday and also follow the match-play format.

The opening ceremony was hosted by former footballer David Ginola and featured the players’ partners in a glitzy spectacle

If you know your history…

The USA boast 26 victories in the 41 Ryder Cups played since 1927, though only eight of those have come since the addition of European players in 1979.

Europe have won 10 in that time, with the 1989 contest at the Belfry finishing as a tie, and have dominated since the turn of the century with victories in six of the eight matches played.

The visitors are looking for a first victory on European soil since 1993, but head to Le Golf National as holders having stopped a run of three successive defeats in 2016.