Europe captain Thomas Bjorn will tell his players to seize their opportunity to become legends after putting his faith in his Ryder Cup rookies.
While world No 2 Justin Rose will lead from the front for the third contest in succession, there was no place for European talisman Ian Poulter or fellow veteran wild cards Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson in today’s opening session.
Each of Bjorn’s pairs features a rookie alongside an experienced player, with Rose partnering Spain’s Jon Rahm against three-time major winner Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, and Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen facing world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in match two.
The all-English pairing of Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton then have the daunting task of taking on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, with Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari having an equally tough task against ‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed and rejuvenated Tiger Woods.
“I believe in them one through 12 and it really is a team effort this week,” Bjorn said.
“This is what we go with [this morning], and it’s a marathon. It really is.
“I just believe very much in this team. I believe in them as a group, I believe in them as individuals, and I just really felt like this was what I saw.
“This is an opportunity to stand up and follow in the footsteps of all the great players of this continent, and that’s the opportunity they have.
“Some of them have a long-standing Ryder Cup career and history with this event, and some of them are just setting out on a new chapter in their lives.
“But for all of them, it’s an opportunity to add to what their golf career is about.
“I’ve always said one thing about the game of golf: players are counted for what they do in the greatest events in the world, but legends are made in this event.
“That is where the public comes around them and can do so much for their careers.
“It’s an opportunity to go out there and be the best that you can be on a grand stage.”
Woods claimed the Tour Championship on Sunday for his first tournament win since August 2013 and his 80th PGA Tour title.
The 42-year-old languished as low as 1,199 in golf’s world rankings less than a year ago following spinal fusion surgery, but completed a remarkable comeback at East Lake.
Woods has been on the winning side just once in seven previous appearances and has lost 17 of his 33 matches, a stark contrast to the record of Poulter, who has won 13 points from his 18 matches.
“They are all difficult to leave out, especially guys that have played in so many,” Bjorn added.
“They fall into the group like anybody else, they know what they are and what they represent and it’s all about building for the whole week.
“I had some guys that are really, really keen on getting out on the golf course, and they have never been here before. I felt like it was really important to get them out there because I believe in them and I trust them.”
United States captain Jim Furyk said “chemistry” between Reed and Woods had been the key to their pairing, which saw the successful partnership of Masters champion Reed and three-time major winner Spieth broken up.
Asked what would make him nervous when play finally gets under way today, Furyk said: “If they showed up with a different frame of mind. That would make me nervous. I have seen some ‘Oh, s***’ faces in the Ryder Cup, I’ll say that. I’m sure I’ve had a couple myself. Yeah, that would make me nervous. I don’t expect that to happen.”
More Ryder Cup build-up: Page 25.