MEDINAH, Ill. >> Brandt Snedeker won’t have to wait long to get his first taste of the Ryder Cup.
After a week of practice and pomp, the Ryder Cup gets under way Friday at Medinah with Snedeker and Jim Furyk in the opening foursomes match against Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world.
“We wanted to get Brandt going,” U.S. captain Davis Love III said.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal went for strength at the top in a Ryder Cup where every player looks strong. McIlroy and McDowell are best friends and major champions from Northern Ireland. They were 1-1-1 together at Wales two years ago.
Olazabal put his strongest team out second — Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who are 4-0 in foursomes. They will go up against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, one of three rookies that Love is playing in the opening session.
It’s the first time since 1995 that neither Mickelson nor Tiger Woods was in the leadoff match. Woods is the anchor for the opening sessions, back with Steve Stricker to take on Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
Poulter is 8-3 in the Ryder Cup, though two of those losses involved Woods. Poulter and Ross Fisher lost to Woods and Stricker in fourballs in the opening session at Wales in 2010, and Poulter and Darren Clarke lost to Woods and Chris Riley in fourballs in 2004 at Oakland Hills.
The third match features Ryder Cup rookie Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson against Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, an alternate-shot match among four players who tend to keep the ball in play off the tee. Then again, there’s hardly any rough at Medinah. The emphasis is on power and putting.
Both captains said all week the tough part would be figuring out who to leave out — every player at Medinah is inside the top 35 in the world. Olazabal elected to bench Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer, Peter Hanson and Nicolas Colsaerts, the only rookie on Europe’s side. Love sat out the pairing of Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson, and Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
“We have four on the bench. We’re going to have to get them in the game,” Love said.