GLENEAGLES, Scotland – The U.S. rookies are being thrown straight into the mix at the Ryder Cup.
American captain Tom Watson is sending out all three of his rookies for this morning’s opening session of fourballs at Gleneagles – including two of them paired against a European duo featuring another rookie.
Newcomer Jimmy Walker is paired with Rickie Fowler for the second match against Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn, the 43-year-old Dane playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2002.
In the biggest surprise, Watson chose to pair first-timers Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed for the third match, where they’ll face Ian Poulter and Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher.
Watson offered this message to his rookie pairing: “I’m going to throw you in the ocean without a life preserver. You’re on your own. You get out there and you get it done.”
Watson said it’s important to get the three rookies to play the morning session, rather than sending them out first in the afternoon foursomes.
“It’s a good place to get their feet wet,” Watson said. “You would like to get them to play all 18 holes, play their own ball and get them out that way.”
The 21-year-old Spieth, who has five top-five finishes this year on the PGA Tour, will become the youngest player in 15 years to play in the Ryder Cup. He’s back in familiar surroundings: He played in the 2010 Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, winning all three of his matches.
“He’s on the fast track because he played the Junior Ryder Cup here at Gleneagles,” Watson said. “He’s a very strong-willed man and I’m very impressed with his attitude.”
Same goes for the 24-year-old Reed, who declared himself one of the top five players in the world after winning at Doral this year.
Europe captain Paul McGinley left out his two other rookies – Victor Dubuisson of France and Jamie Donaldson of Wales – for the morning. Walker is the veteran of the U.S. rookie trio. He’s 35 and has played on the tour for nearly a decade. He won events early this season and finished in the top 10 at three majors this year.
“I’ve been playing professional golf for a long time,” Reed said. “I’ve been on a couple of tours, made some big putts at key times, keeping my card, that type of stuff.”
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