Expert picks: 2018 Ryder Cup Friday four-balls

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 27: Tiger Woods of the United States during practice prior to the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 27, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Expert picks: 2018 Ryder Cup Friday four-balls

2018 Ryder Cup

Expert picks: 2018 Ryder Cup Friday four-balls

The 2018 Ryder Cup commences Friday morning at Le Golf National with four-balls play.

All the matchups and times for the opening session have been revealed. Who will grab the early edge in Paris?

Our staff of experts make their picks:

Geoff Shackelford

Europe 3, U.S. 1

Match 1: Justin Rose/Jon Rahm (Europe) def. Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau, 1 up

If Rahm controls his emotions and Rose continues his form, this will be a tough duo to beat. Should be a lively back-and-forth match.

Match 2: Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen, 3 and 2

Questions about driving accuracy and form on the European side make this a likely U.S. win.

Match 3: Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) def. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas, 1 up

Another one that screams back-and-forth action, with Hatton’s familiarity with Le Golf National the only difference.

Match 4: Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) def. Tiger Woods/Patrick Reed, 1 up

A barnburner comes down to the last hole, where Fleetwood makes a heroic birdie after Tiger’s attempt just lips out.

• • •

Alistair Tait

Europe 2, U.S. 2

Match 1: Justin Rose and Jon Rahm (Europe) def. Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, 2 and 1
Rahm is so jacked up for his Ryder Cup debut he’ll probably carry Rose to victory. He’ll certainly benefit from having a steady partner.
Match 2: Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen, 4 and 3
Have a bad feeling about this European pairing. Rory needs to show he’s improved from the Tour Championship final round, and Olesen might drag him down.
Match 3: Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) vs. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, halve
Watch for rookies Thomas and Hatton to excel in this match by getting the birdies, with Spieth and Casey struggling to capture past Ryder Cup form.
Match 4: Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) vs, Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, halve
The U.S. pair needs to play well to defeat arguably the steadiest European pairing of the morning draw.

• • •

Dan Kilbridge

U.S. 2, Europe 2

Match 1: Justin Rose/Jon Rahm (Europe) def. Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau, 2 and 1

Rose’s ballstriking shines and Rahm thrives in his first crack at a Ryder Cup point.

Match 2: Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen (Europe) def. Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler, 1 up

Rory puts a disappointing Sunday at East Lake behind him as DJ and Rickie hang tough after a slow start.

Match 3: Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton, 4 and 3

Spieth and Thomas pick up a few key birdies early and cruise in the most lopsided match of the morning.

Match 4: Tiger Woods/Patrick Reed (U.S.) def. Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood, 1 up

Tiger and Reed pull out an insanely loud affair to tie it up, but two Euros who have played well paired with Tiger this season keep it close until the end.

• • •

Gerry Ahern

U.S. 3, Europe 1

Match 1: Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau (U.S.) def. Justin Rose/Jon Rahm, 1 up

No one’s been more clutch than Koepka and he’ll steady rookie Finau. Rahm too revved up.

Match 2: Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (U.S) def. Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen, 2 and 1

New guy Olesen will feel the heat as DJ helps Fowler earn maiden four-ball win.

Match 3: Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) def. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas, 1 up

The Euros pull it out behind emotional Hatton. Spieth’s struggles continue.

Match 4: Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood, 1 up

The crowds are at fever pitch as Woods makes triumphant Ryder return and Captain America seals the deal.

• • •

Beth Ann Nichols

U.S. 2 1/2, Europe 1 1/2

Match 1: Justin Rose/Jon Rahm (Europe) def. Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau, 1 up

The Rahm Ryder Cup legend could very well start here. Euros have found an ideal yin and yang here.

Match 2: Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen, 3 and 2

Might be too much too soon for Olesen, with McIlroy still searching after a rough finish at East Lake.

Match 3: Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton, 2 and 1

Couple of best buds know each other’s game in and out. Hard to think of Thomas as a rookie.

Match 4: Tiger Woods/Patrick Reed (U.S.) vs. Tommy Fleetwood/Francesco Molinari, halve

Reed’s fire might bring out the best in Woods, but Fleetwood and Molinari are a sneaky handful. Crowd will carry Euros to half a point.

• • •

Brentley Romine

U.S. 2, Europe 2

Match 1: Justin Rose/Jon Rahm (Europe) def. Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau, 3 and 2

I like the pairing Koepka and Finau, but Rose is Europe’s hottest player and Rahm has the ability to make lots of birdies. I think the Europeans ham-and-egg it well in this one.

Match 2: Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen (Europe) def. Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler, 1 up

McIlroy will get the most out of Olesen and carry the Dane to victory over a distracted DJ and Fowler, who doesn’t have the best record in this event.

Match 3: Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton, 4 and 3

Spieth is finally free of Patrick Reed, so he should relish getting to play alongside Thomas. Casey is battling an injured back and Hatton might be the weakest link on this European team.

Match 4: Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood, 1 up

Expect this one to be closer than many think. Sure, Reed and Woods will make a lot of birdies, but Molinari is comfortable playing against Woods in Ryder Cups. Fleetwood isn’t afraid to go low, either, as evidenced by his final-round 63 at the U.S. Open this summer.

• • •

Kevin Casey

U.S. 3, Europe 1

Match 1: Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau (U.S.) def. Justin Rose/Jon Rahm, 5 and 4

This explosive American duo will be nearly unbeatable in this format that favors birdie binges if they’re on. And I have no reason to believe they won’t be.

Match 2: Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen, 2 and 1

A lot of potential in this European pairing, but the steadiness and experience of the Americans here will win out.

Match 3: Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) def. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas, 4 and 3

I have a sneaky feeling Hatton will be a breakout star in this Ryder Cup, and it will start against a team hampered by Spieth not being in his best form.

Match 4: Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood, 5 and 3

This may be a softer, cuddlier Tiger, but don’t think he’s given up on vengeance. He remembers Molinari beating him out for the Claret Jug this summer, and Woods has a knack for beating down those who previously bested him. Put Ryder Cup hero Reed alongside him and this pairing could be insanely dominant.

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