Thursday, 23 September 1999
Mark James has stuck with the expected pairings for the first series of foursomes with the notable exception of José Maria Olazábal. The most experienced player in the European side with five Ryder Cup matches behind him has been left out of the Friday morning matches to give him another morning to work on his game, opening the door for Padriag Harrington to make his Ryder Cup debut alongside Miguel Angel Jiménez.

"José Maria wanted another morning to work on his game," said James after announcing his pairings. "He didn't feel quite ready. He's very, very close. I played him with Padraig in the same fourball so he could see that if he was not going to play, someone playing well would take his place.

"Padraig has played extremely well since qualifying for the team and extremely well in practice. I made the decision to put him in if Ollie was not 100 percent yesterday."

Sam Torrance, one of Mark James' assistants added: "Olazábal told Mark he wasn't quite ready for the foursomes. I think that's awesome he would do that."

The other three pairings were no surprise, with Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie striking the first blow for the European cause. Lawrie, the Open Champion, is expected to hit the first ball of the 33rd Ryder Cup Matches having agreed to drive on the odd holes. "I'm sure it will be nerve-wracking. But I've dreamed off this for a long time and can't wait to get started. Monty and I have dove-tailed really well in practice and it would be hard not to feel confident about partnering someone of his ability and experience."

James said: "These guys like to play with each other. Colin and Paul get on well together and play well together.

"I haven't switched the pairings much in practice. Lee is a good partner for Darren. They feel very comfortable together. It is not so much that they are good friends as the fact that they can play well together."

One of the most eagerly awaited matches will be the second of the foursomes where Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik will come face to face with Tom Lehman and Tiger Woods.

"There is so much excitement," said US team captain Ben Crenshaw. "It will get a lot of people excited, get the players excited. They are the two most exciting people in the world to watch play golf."

James on the other hand was doing his best to play down the significance of that particular match. "Jesper and Sergio wanted to play with each other at the start of the week and I was quite happy to let them do so.

"We're concentrating on our side of the pairings and looking after our own games, sending our guys out to play as well as they can and not worrying too much about how the opposition are doing their pairings.

"It has been my intention the whole week to get 100% from the players and to start worrying about the opposition too much I think would be counterproductive."

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