Jim Furyk has spent four days watching his team play loose and confident, two key ingredients he hopes will allow the Americans to end 25 years without winning the Ryder Cup away from home.
He can only hope that’s what he sees when the shots at Le Golf National really count.
“What would make me nervous?” Furyk said on the eve of the matches. “If I showed up in the morning and guys had a look on their face that made me nervous. I don’t usually see that with this group.”
Flags were raised, anthems were played and the partisan cheers began late Thursday afternoon to signal the end of a hype and anticipation of a Ryder Cup featuring two of the strongest teams the U.S. and Europe have presented at the same time.
Now it’s time to play.
“I believe in this team, one through 12,” European captain Thomas Bjorn said.
Furyk chose to send off Ryder Cup rookie Tony Finau and three-time major champion Brooks Koepka in the opening fourballs match Friday against Justin Rose and rookie Jon Rahm. He also broke up the Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed partnership that had delivered five points in seven matches over the last two Ryder Cups.
Instead, Spieth gets to play with one of his best friends, Justin Thomas, a relationship that took root in France more than a decade ago when both wore American colors in the Evian Junior Masters.
“Very familiar with each other’s games — have been for, shoot, over 10 years now,” Spieth said. “So it’s going to be really exciting to be able to look at him on the first tee and kind of remember where we’ve come from, and we’re both here.”
Reed gets his hero — Tiger Woods — in the anchor match.
They play against British Open champion Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.
Missing from the American lineup is Phil Mickelson, who will sit out the opening session for the first time since his Ryder Cup debut
The 42nd event begins today at Le Golf National in France:
Format: Four matches of fourballs (better ball) and foursomes (alternate shot) today and Saturday, 12 singles matches Sunday.
How to win: The United States needs 14 points to retain the Cup; Europe needs 141/2 points to win the Cup. The U.S. leads the series 26-13-2.
Looking back: The U.S. won the last event 17-11 at Hazeltine two years ago for its biggest rout since 1981. The Americans have not won the Ryder Cup away from home since 1993.
Captains: Jim Furyk (United States), Thomas Bjorn (Europe).
Friday’s pairings (fourballs): Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau (U.S.) vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm; Dustin Johnson-Rickie Fowler (U.S.) vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen; Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas (U.S.) vs. Paul Casey-Tyrrell Hatton; Patrick Reed-Tiger Woods (U.S.) vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood.