McIlroy, Mickelson to square off early

European Tour

Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia will take on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on the opening morning of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

Mickelson took a jibe at McIlroy on Wednesday over his court case against former management company Horizon, which has his seen team-mate Graeme McDowell get dragged into the dispute.

“Not only are we able to play together, we also don’t litigate against each other and that’s a real plus, I feel, heading into this week,” Mickelson said.

McIlroy laughed it off on Thursday, but no doubt Lefty’s comments have added some extra needle and should make things even more interesting when the players take to the course on Friday.

The pairings for the opening morning’s fourballs were revealed at the conclusion of Thursday’s opening ceremony at Gleneagles.

Prior to the announcement, captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley delivered their opening speeches in front of the assembled crowd.

“We may come from diverse and different cultural backgrounds but together we stand as one, representing our countries, people and continent. That is what brings us together,” said McGinley.

“I know you will be energetic, passionate and loud, but I also know you will also be gracious, considerate and courteous to our opponents. It is this which makes the Ryder Cup unique,” he told the crowd.

Watson, meanwhile, described Scotland as his “second home” and described the next three days as “a date with destiny” for his team.

“These matches began on a note of friendship and that is how it will end on Sunday,” he added.

McIlroy and Garcia will be the last of the fourball pairings to head out on Friday morning.

Starting things off are Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, who take on Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

Next out is Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer, up against Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, followed by Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter versus Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.

The star-studded McIlroy/Garcia vs Mickelson/Bradley match heads out last.

Mickelson and Bradley won all three of their matches together at Medinah in 2012, and no doubt Watson will be hoping the duo proves to be another ace in the hole for the US team.

Some notable absentees from the morning’s action include Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, though they will most likely emerge from the clubhouse for the afternoon foursomes.

Draw and tee-off times for the opening fourballs of the 40th Ryder Cup, Europe v United States, at Gleneagles, Scotland, on Friday, September 26:

(Europe names first, time is BST)

0735 Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson v Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson
0750 Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer v Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker
0805 Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter v Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed
0820 Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy v Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson

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