McIlroy to lead off Europe

Rory McIlroy, right, and Graeme McDowell, left, will lead off Europe in the opening Ryder Cup foursomes (AP)

Rory McIlroy, right, and Graeme McDowell, left, will lead off Europe in the opening Ryder Cup foursomes (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

World number one Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will lead off Europe's bid to retain the Ryder Cup in Chicago today.

The pair will play Jim Furyk, winner of all his five games at the Presidents Cup last year, and Brandt Snedeker, who last Sunday pulled off a £7million double of FedEx Cup and Tour Championship victories. In the second game Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, both unbeaten in foursomes in the match, take on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.

Lee Westwood has been given Italian Francesco Molinari as his partner - they face Zach Johnson and another debutant in Jason Dufner - while Tiger Woods is kept until last by home captain Davis Love. Woods and Steve Stricker will take on Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who spoke on Wednesday of wanting to "kill" his opponents in the biennial competition.

Poulter has faced Woods twice before and lost both times, but has won eight of his other nine games.

McIlroy said: "I can't wait. Leading the side off we are going to go out there and get the blue on the board early.

"It is a great honour to lead Europe out and to be honest they are not the opponents we were expecting.

"We know that their team is so strong all the way through, but it was a little surprise to see a rookie in their first group."

McDowell added: "We are going to use the world number one's power and precision and I will just knock a few tap-ins in.

"I am very proud to be playing alongside my great friend and the greatest player on the planet."

The action starts at 7.20am local time and the foursomes will be followed by afternoon fourballs.

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