x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Poulter faces Woods in quest for revenge

Colin Montgomerie, the European captain, says Ian Poulter is relishing the challenge in the morning four-balls.

Colin Montgomerie, left, the captain of Europe and Corey Pavin, the USA captain , are pictured with the Ryder Cup between them. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Colin Montgomerie, left, the captain of Europe and Corey Pavin, the USA captain , are pictured with the Ryder Cup between them. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

NEWPORT, WALES // Ian Poulter, beaten by Tiger Woods in his first Ryder Cup match, finally has the chance for revenge at Celtic Manor today. 

Poulter and his partner Darren Clarke were crushed 4&3 by Woods and Chris Riley in Detroit six years ago. They will square off again today, both with different partners.

This time Poulter will be with cup newcomer Ross Fisher - his World Cup partner last November. That was no surprise, and nor was the fact that the world No 1 has been paired with Steve Stricker. 

They won four points out of four at last year's Presidents Cup. But Woods, who missed the 2008 Ryder Cup through injury, will not be leading things off for the USA as he did on his three previous appearances. 

In a clear sign that he is not the player he was - he has not had a top-three finish since the infidelity scandal that ended his marriage - Woods and Stricker go out third in the morning four-balls.

Asked how much Poulter will be relishing the prospect, Colin Montgomerie, the European captain, said at the opening ceremony: "Ian relishes every prospect." 

The 38th Ryder Cup and the first on Welsh soil begins at 7.45am with Lee Westwood and the German rookie Martin Kaymer - the two highest-ranked players on the home side - against Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Westwood, returning to the game after seven weeks recovering from a torn calf muscle, and Mickelson have met four times before.

And Mickelson, winner of the opening match in Woods's absence two years ago, has lost two, halved one and won only once. Kaymer, only 25, becomes the first European rookie to play in the opening clash since Scot Paul Lawrie - Open champion at the time - partnered Montgomerie in Boston 11 years ago. 

Next come Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar. The Northern Ireland duo were many people's choice to start things off, mainly on the back on winning all three times they played at the venue for Britain and Ireland last year.

But Westwood and Kaymer it is, with Montgomerie pointing out that Kaymer is golf's most recent major champion. He could have added '... and winner of his last two tournaments'. 

Bringing up the rear for Europe, as widely predicted, are Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington, two of Montgomerie's three hotly debated wild card choices. 

They will play Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, both cup rookies, who Corey Pavin, the American captain perhaps thinks will be able to handle four-balls better than the one-ball foursomes.

Left out by Montgomerie, but likely to play in the afternoon, are the Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, Sweden's Peter Hanson and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez. Pavin omits Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk. They will also be expected to enter the action in the foursomes. 

* Press Association