American Johnson launches 38th Ryder Cup in pouring rain
Newport: American Dustin Johnson struck the first shot of the 38th Ryder Cup on Friday, finding the right rough off the tee at the par-four opening hole to launch the morning fourball matches in pouring rain.
The big-hitting rookie partnered four-times major champion Phil Mickelson for holders the United States while world number three Lee Westwood and U.S. PGA champion Martin Kaymer led off for hosts Europe in the first of four encounters.
The four players were given a rousing welcome by the fans packed around the first tee, chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole" and "Europe, Europe, Europe", and a few of "USA, USA, USA", echoing across the course at Celtic Manor.
Mickelson, Westwood and Kayner, wearing a balaclava, each hit the fairway with their opening drives.
With steady rain expected to sweep across the Twenty Ten course for much of the day, preferred lies were in operation for the morning fourballs.
Northern Irishmen Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell take on former British Open champion Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar in the second match out before world number one Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker face Britain`s Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher.
"Tiger and Stricker -- if ever there was a match you are going to want to play in, it is against their best two players," Poulter told reporters. "The roar on that first tee will be sensational."
In the final fourball, Britain`s Luke Donald and Irishman Padraig Harrington take on US rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton.
The US team, captained by Corey Pavin, face a daunting task as they bid to win the trophy on European soil for the first time in 17 years.
Europe, under the captaincy of Colin Montgomerie, field one of their strongest lineups of all time and have extra motivation this year after losing the trophy at Valhalla in 2008.