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harrington's picks Rory McIlroy to partner Ian Poulter as Shane Lowry is left out of first pairings

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Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy and team Europe celebrate on the ninth green during practice rounds prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 23, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy and team Europe celebrate on the ninth green during practice rounds prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 23, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy and team Europe celebrate on the ninth green during practice rounds prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 23, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

World number one Jon Rahm was given the opportunity to lead from the front as Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry were left out of the opening session of the 43rd Ryder Cup.

European captain Padraig Harrington selected Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia to lead their side’s bid to retain the trophy in the first foursomes match at Whistling Straits.

And they were handed a tough task when US captain Steve Stricker sent out three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, who won three of their four matches together in Paris in 2018.

Their only defeat at Le Golf National came against Europe’s star pairing of Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, but with Molinari not making the team this time Fleetwood had to sit out the first morning’s action.

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Shane Lowry during a practice round at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Photo: Tom Russo/Sportsfile

Shane Lowry during a practice round at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Photo: Tom Russo/Sportsfile

Shane Lowry during a practice round at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Photo: Tom Russo/Sportsfile

Norway’s Viktor Hovland was the only European rookie in action on Friday morning as he partnered Paul Casey against Dustin Johnson and Open champion Collin Morikawa, with Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick taking on Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

The final match saw Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, who won one of their two foursomes matches in Paris, up against FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.

Harrington pitched his speech at the opening ceremony perfectly, praising the local NFL team Green Bay Packers and asking for applause for key workers for the service they had provided during the pandemic, prior to naming his pairings for Friday morning's foursomes.

“I want to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of key workers in so many areas who have gone above and beyond every single day to tackle this pandemic and allow the world to return to some sort of normality,” he said.

“I’m sure there are many key workers in the crowd here today and I know many more will be watching on television here in the United States and back in Europe and across the world.

“To each and every single one of you, thank you. You are the true heroes of these past two years, and therefore, in your honour, I would like to ask everyone to stand and applaud you for your extraordinary efforts.”

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Draw and tee times for the opening session of the 43rd Ryder Cup, Europe v United States at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, on Friday, September 24:

Foursomes

(Europe names first, all times BST)

1305 Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia v Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth

1321 Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland v Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa

1337 Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick v Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger

1353 Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter v Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele

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