Westwood to lead Europe into combat

ENGLAND’S Lee Westwood and Germany’s Martin Kaymer will launch Europe’s challenge to reclaim the Ryder Cup when they face Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson of the United States in this morning’s opening fourball.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy did not get the clash with world No1 Tiger Woods that he craved, the youngster and his partner, compatriot Graeme McDowell, being pitted against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar in the second contest.

Woods and Steve Stricker, US captain Corey Pavin’s highest ranked pairing, then meet the flamboyant Ian Poulter and his fellow Englishman Ross Fisher, before Europe’s Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington complete the morning by taking on Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton.

Westwood has not played competitively since the start of August owing to a calf injury, but the 37-year-old is confident he and world No6 Kaymer, making his Ryder Cup debut, are ready for the responsibility. “We are both playing well and we are looking forward to being first out and leading the team off,” said Westwood. “You’ve got to hit the ball sooner or later so you might as well hit it first.”

Europe captain Colin Montgomerie said Westwood had requested to be in his first pairing at Celtic Manor, near Newport, Wales. “I feel that the honour should be given to Lee to hit the first shot tomorrow morning for Europe,” said the Scot. “I think in Lee asking for that position gave me no option but to give him that honour.”

07:45 Lee Westwood & Martin Kaymer v Phil Mickelson & Dustin Johnson

08:00 Rory McIlroy & Graeme McDowell v Stewart Cink & Matt Kuchar

08:15 Ian Poulter & Ross Fisher v Steve Stricker & Tiger Woods

08:30 Luke Donald & Padraig Harrington v Bubba Watson & Jeff Overton