Ryder Cup: 6 Key Takeaways From The Friday Foursomes Match-Ups

We pick out the biggest talking points after the Friday foursomes pairings were announced at the Ryder Cup

General view of the fan village during the opening ceremony for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club on September 28, 2023 in Rome, Italy.
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The wait is nearly over, as the battle for the Ryder Cup commences on Friday at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome. We now know the pairings for the opening foursomes session and there are some blockbuster match-ups. 

As ever, the teams look immensely close on paper, but who will steal the early momentum and lay down a marker? We cast our eye over the four encounters and pick out the key takeaways from what looks set to be an incredible morning in Rome.

No Fitzpatrick

During his pre-tournament press conference, Matt Fitzpatrick spoke of his desire to make his Ryder Cup fourballs debut, having been selected only to play foursomes matches when he suited up for the blue and gold in 2016 and 2021. It looks like his wish will be granted.

His omission from Luke Donald’s Friday morning foursomes pairings was one of the surprises of the opening ceremony. On paper, his game appears tailor made for the alternate shot format. Delving a little deeper, however, you can see why Donald has left out the 2022 US Open champion. 

For one, he is yet to win a Ryder Cup point, whether in foursomes or singles, and while he is a different player now versus then, it would still have been a risk to put him out in the first session. Especially given Donald’s desire to make a fast start.

Perhaps more importantly, Fitzpatrick struggled with his driver last season, ranking 54th off the tee on the PGA Tour. Given how tight the fairways are here and the brutal nature of the rough, that likely played a key role in Donald's decision. 

Who will hit the opening tee shot?

Hitting the opening tee shot at a Ryder Cup is one of the greatest honours in golf, and this year that will fall on the shoulders of either Scottie Scheffler or Sam Burns. Having followed them on the back nine today, there were few clues on show. 

Both players teed off on every hole and largely played their own ball and played well to boot. Given Burns' rookie status, it's likely World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler will get the nod to officially get the 2023 Ryder Cup under way.

Spieth and JT left out

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas fist bump at the Ryder Cup

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Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were notable for their absence from Zach Johnson's foursomes line-up. It's something few saw coming, but for anyone analysing their play on the ground so far this week, it's in no way a surprise. 

Much was made of the form of Thomas last season and his Ryder Cup selection sparked some controversy. He still looks some way from his best, but worryingly for US fans, Spieth seems even more out of sorts

The pair played foursomes on Thursday morning but struggled almost throughout. In particular, Spieth was missing fairways and greens both left and right, and understandably cut a frustrated figure. 

There is no doubt they'll be out in Friday afternoon's fourballs session but it's unlikely they'll be risked in alternate shot. 

Captains put faith in Ryder Cup rookies

Sepp Straka at Ryder Cup

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Of the 16 players chosen for the foursomes session, five are rookies. On the American side, Sam Burns, Max Homa and Brian Harman will make their Ryder Cup debuts.

Captain Johnson spoke about it following the opening ceremony and allayed any concerns, saying he and his backroom team don't even consider one of them a rookie. That's likely in relation to Max Homa, who took to the Presidents Cup last year like a duck to water. 

The Californian is out in an intriguing game two alongside another rookie in Brian Harman. The Open champion is reportedly in incredible form but neither has any Ryder Cup experience, so it remains to be seen how they'll handle the unique atmosphere the biennial contest throws up. 

On the European side, Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka will begin their Ryder Cup careers on Friday morning in Rome. Straka's partnership with Shane Lowry makes perfect sense from the point of view of the golf ball, as both play the Srixon Z-Star XV, but will that be enough for the Austrian to find comfort in that pressure cooker? Bigger names than his have come unstuck in the same situation. 

Aberg has been described as a "generational talent" by Donald in the past, so it's little wonder his skipper has confidence in him. Alongside one of the game's form players, this could be a dynamite European pairing for years to come.

Boos to inspire Koepka?

Brooks Koepka hitting his driving iron

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Another American left off the team sheet on Friday was Brooks Koepka. The 2023 PGA champion is one of the biggest names in golf but Johnson clearly has no issue in dropping the hammer. 

The five-time Major winner was involved in the most unsavoury moment of what was one of the better opening ceremonies. When the LIV Golf member's name was read out, it was met with a chorus of boos from the pro-European cohort in attendance. 

Johnson admitted he didn't hear them from the stage but they were loud and clear on the broadcast that was beamed out all over the world. As he has shown in the past, however, such a slight is only likely to fire Koepka up and inspire him to produce his best golf, which is a dangerous prospect.


Rory McIlroy has been given a new partner. After pairing with Lowry and Ian Poulter in 2021, the Northern Irishman will now team up with Tommy Fleetwood in what could be a deadly duo. 

Like Lowry and Straka, McIlroy and Fleetwood both use the Taylormade TP5x, which will negate the challenge of adjusting to a new golf ball. They are also two of the best drivers in the world, which is one of the key challenges of the Italian layout. 

By all accounts, both are in fine fettle, so don't be surprised if this is a partnership that performs and helps Europe to glory.

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x