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McIlroy-McDowell vs. Furyk-Snedeker starts Ryder Cup
Posted 9/27/2012 6:07 PM ET

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Brandt Snedeker handled the pressure last week. Now he'll see if he can handle Ryder Cup pressure Friday morning.

Five days after winning $11.44 million with a dominating stretch drive to capture the Tour Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs, Snedeker will make his Ryder Cup debut alongside Jim Furyk in the first match against world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell as the 39th edition of the biennial bout between the U.S. and Europe begins at Medinah Country Club.

"I will lean on Jim a lot. He will be a rock. But I haven't been nervous all week, and I just want to get started," Snedeker said. "This is what we dream about and we're going up against two of their best players and we just want to show what the U.S. can do and we'll be up to the challenge of answering the bell."

PRESSURE'S ON: 'Nowhere to hide' in Ryder Cup

Snedeker is one of three rookies U.S. captain Davis Love III is sending out in the first session of foursomes. Keegan Bradley makes his debut partnering with Phil Mickelson in the second match against European stalwarts Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who are 4-0 in foursomes. And rookie Jason Dufner will team with Zach Johnson against veteran Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari.

In the morning's anchor match, the formidable team of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker face Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. Poulter is 8-3 in the Ryder Cup, though two of those losses involved Woods.

It's the first time since 1995 that neither Mickelson nor Tiger Woods was in the leadoff match.

Europe, which has won six of the last eight contests, needs 14 points to retain the Cup it won in 2010 in Wales. The USA. needs 14½ to gain possession.

BRENNAN: Tiger needs to step up this week

"These guys are not really rookies," Love said. "Brandt Snedeker has been playing as well as anybody since the Open Championship, and he's hot. And I got him with a guy that's got a lot of experience. Obviously the first tee Friday morning of
the Ryder Cup is going to be a pretty exciting, loud place, and we wanted some guys that we felt like could handle that situation and that wanted to get out of the gate and get going. Those are two guys we felt like were perfect for the
first tee. And the more you get to know Brandt Snedeker, then the more you'll understand why he's going off first.

"... Obviously Phil and Keegan are a little bit excited to be playing, too, so I have to get them going. And then we've got some pretty cool customers at the end that can handle whatever happens in the last two matches."

KEY HOLES: Where will the tide turn?

Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal said he has his four strongest foursome teams heading out in the first session.

"I know that the matches are going to be tough," Olazabal said. "The U.S. team is playing great. We do have very strong pairings on the U.S. side, and the European players are going to have to play really, really well in order to win points. That's the way this Ryder Cup is going to be."

Americans Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson will sit out the morning session. For Europe, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie and rookie Nicolas Colsaerts are sitting.

Four fourball matches will begin at 1:05 p.m. ET.

"I've got four of the best players in the world that love this golf course sitting on the bench, and I'm going to have to get them in the game," Love said. "I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do, but it's just this is the best four teams wefelt like to start us off. And order-wise, there was not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to it, except that maybe pace of play, we wanted to get Brandt going.

"Brandt likes to get out there and get after it.

"Brandt was a good one to lead off."

The ceremonies were opened by retired Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who has taken up golf in his retirement, and actor/singer/golfer Justin Timberlake. Timberlake hosts a PGA Tour Fall Series event, next week in Las Vegas.

Posted 9/27/2012 6:07 PM ET
Brandt Snedeker, working on his bunker game during a practice round Thursday, will be in the first foursome pairing Friday morning with Jim Furyk against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
David J. Phillip, AP
Brandt Snedeker, working on his bunker game during a practice round Thursday, will be in the first foursome pairing Friday morning with Jim Furyk against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.