Both Ryder Cup captains sprung something of a surprise as they announce their opening pairing for the 2014 competition at Gleneagles, with USA skipper Tom Watson pairing rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reid together.
At the opening ceremony on the eve of the Ryder Cup, Paul McGinley also handed European rookie Stephen Gallacher his debut in the opening session as he paired him with star man Ian Poulter.
That leaves Poulter as the senior figure in that particular match with those two taking on the all-rookie combination of Spieth and Reid in the third contest of the day.
“We’ve got 12 strong players I could have gone with any number of permutations,” said McGinley.
“We've got Stephen Gallacher out there with a guy who's going to enjoy the atmosphere that Stephen is going to have. The Scottish crowd are going to be vociferous and we all know who likes to rise to the occasion. Ian is looking forward to that role.”
Either Bubba Watson or Webb Simpson will hit the opening tee shot of the 2014 Ryder Cup as captain Watson opted to retain their successful partnership and send them out first as American look to avenge the Miracle of Medinah from two years ago.
McGinley pitched another slight curveball in proceedings by splitting up Justin Rose and Poulter’s partnership – instead pitting the 2013 US Open champion Rose with Swede Henrik Stenson as Europe’s lead-off pair.
Veteran Dane Thomas Bjorn was partnered alongside this year’s US Open champion and former world No 1 Martin Kaymer in Europe’s third match out, and they face Rickie Fowler and rookie Jimmy Walker.
As both captains arguably saved their best until last, the final fourball of Friday’s first session looks the most mouth-watering with Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson forming their expected partnership which went unbeaten in Medinah.
That was countered by McGinley playing current world No 1 Rory McIlroy with Sergio Garcia to play in what promises to be a superb battle.
Watson explained that he felt his rookies would be best served going out first in the fourballs as opposed to the afternoon foursomes – the more difficult format.
“Furyk and Kuchar, you can probably bank on them playing in the afternoon,” said Watson. “The three rookies in the morning fourballs, I think that’s a good place for them to get their feet wet, playing every shot. I have all the confidence in the world of them getting out and doing very well.
“The match everyone’s looking at is the Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley one at the end of the fourballs - that ought to be a barn burner as well.
“But the first match with Bubba and Webb taken them on that’ll get us off to a good start too. You can’t play all 12, you’ve got to sit four and it’s all about how you see them matching up in fourballs.”
Opening fourballs and tee times:
7.35am: Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson v Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson
7.50am: Thomas Bjorn/Martin Kaymer v Rickie Fowler/Jimmy Walker
8.05am: Stephen Gallacher/Ian Poulter v Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reid
8.20am: Sergio Garcia/Rory McIlroy v Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson