The pairings for the first day of 2012 Ryder Cup play are set, and it is going to be a great day of golf. This whole event should be outstanding.
When Europe and USA battle at Medinah Country Club, they will feature 24 of the world's top 35 players, and those 24 guys are going to be doing everything they can to bring the Ryder Cup home.
The Europeans are the defending champions, and they have won six of the last eight, but the Americans won the last time the Cup was played on U.S. soil in 2008.
Play will begin at 8:20 a.m. EST with foursome alternating shot matches. Players will switch to fourball at 8:20 a.m. EST. ESPN will be broadcasting all of Friday's action.
Friday's Foursome Pairings
Golfchannel.com's Jason Sobel gives us the official pairings for the first "foursome" matches of Friday morning.
First Match: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell vs. Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker
This one will feature two of the hottest players in the world.
McIlroy, who will be playing with friend and fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, has won three of his past five tournaments and has established himself as far-and-away the No. 1 player in the world.
Of course, that wasn't true last week when Brandt Snedeker rolled a victory at the prestigious Tour Championship. Sned will look to once again ruin McIlroy's day as he pairs up with Ryder Cup veteran Jim Furyk.
Still, it's hard to bet against McIlroy, especially when he has plenty of experience playing with McDowell.
Second Match: Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia vs. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley
Donald has appeared in three of the past four Ryder Cups, and the only one he missed happens to be the one that the United States claimed victory in.
Throw in the fact that he's playing with Sergio Garcia, who he is 4-0 with in match-play, and this looks like a good opportunity for Europe to grab a point.
Of course, Keegan Bradley is a rising star, and although Phil Mickelson has struggled with inconsistency this season, he's tough to beat when on top of his game.
This could easily end in a half-point for each squad.
Third Match: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari vs. Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson
Europe has the experience advantage in this one, as Westwood is set to make his eighth appearance and Molinari will be making his second. Dufner and Johnson, meanwhile, have only three appearances between them, and they all come from Johnson.
But while experience is so key in these match-play contests, talent is also sort of important, and Dufner and Johnson have that in bunches.
The American duo has four wins on Tour this year while Westwood hasn't lived up to his top world ranking and Molinari is far from elite.
Fourth Match: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods vs. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose
For as good as Tiger Woods is, he had never been nearly as good during match-play. That is, until he found Steve Stricker as a partner.
The duo was somewhat disappointing in limited action together last year at the Presidents Cup, but overall, it is 6-2 in match-play.
There aren't a lot of pairs out there likely to beat Woods and Stricker, and while Poulter and Rose have had success together in the past, they will have their hands full on Friday morning.
Friday Afternoon Fourballs
Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel tweeted out this picture of the pairings board.
First Match at 12:05 p.m. ET: Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson vs. Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson
This is a good by United States captain Davis Love III, keeping Bubba Watson for the four-ball competition. He has great power, but his lack of accuracy would unfairly force his partner to keep playing out of the rough.
However, his inconsistency could play well with U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson as the two can combine to make a very good score.
Lawrie and Hanson are both veterans of this competition, but they are unlikely to put up a spectacular score to win.
Second Match at 12:20 p.m. ET: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
The matchup between two winning groups from the morning session should be one of the most intense battles of the weekend.
Bradley has already created plenty of excitement with a long put to finish off Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia. He needs to keep this energy going to have a chance to win another round.
Unfortunately, there is no one in the world playing better than McIlroy at this point and he will be almost impossible to beat.
Third Match at 12:35 p.m. ET: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar vs. Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer
All four of these men were left out of the morning pairings, so it will be interesting to see how they perform in the afternoon session.
Rose and Kaymer are a combined 3-0 in fourballs at the Ryder Cup, while the American pair have a record of 0-2-2 at this event.
Johnson and Kuchar are incredible consistent on the tour. Unfortunately, they might not have enough to beat the best scores of the European duo.
Fourth Match at 12:50 p.m. ET: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker vs. Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts
This was an interesting decision by Love. Woods continued his struggles in team play by losing in the morning session. To this point, he has not proven he can overcome these issues.
Conversely the pair of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson performed very well to get Team USA an early point, while Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker also held their own against McIlory and McDowell.
Westwood has the ability to carry his team to the win if the best player on the United States team does not start playing like it.