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Tuesday, 26 March 2019
Francesco Molinari after earning The Ryder Cup winning point  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari after earning The Ryder Cup winning point (Getty Images)

European Ryder Cup stars Francesco Molinari and Thorbjørn Olesen will go from being team-mates to adversaries when the Group 7 rivals go head to head at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

As 16 groups of four players prepare to contest round-robin matches from Wednesday to Friday knowing they must finish top to progress, we have picked out five of the most exciting quartets.

Group 12

Four Major Champions will battle it out for one place in the knockouts as Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Jason Day are drawn together in Group 12. Stenson and Mickelson were locked in a thrilling final-round duel at the 2016 Open Championship, with the Swede coming out on top to claim his first Major. If their group match is half as exciting as that battle at Royal Troon Golf Club, the crowds at Austin Country Club are in for a real treat. Day is a two time winner of this event - in 2014 and 2016 - and he will be feared by all who face him, while Furyk has plenty of match play experience to his name.

Group 2

There will be an all English encounter in Group 2 as World Number Two Justin Rose and Eddie Pepperell go up against each other. Argentina's Emiliano Grillo and American Gary Woodland are the other players hoping to make it through to the weekend. Rose brings plenty of match play experience, having been part of three victorious Ryder Cup teams, contributing a total of 14 points along the way in his five appearances in the biennial showpiece. He comes into the week in good form, closing his 2018 Race to Dubai campaign with victory at the Turkish Airlines Open before returning to the winner's circle on the US PGA Tour in January's Farmers Insurance Open. Pepperell has also been trending in the right direction and will be hoping to make an impact in his first appearance at this event. Woodland is no stranger to this event, having lost out to Rory McIlroy in the final in 2015, and he could cause the English pair problems in this group.

Group 7

Francesco Molinari showed his match play credentials when he became the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National last year. He will be fancied by many to make it through to the knockout stages in Austin this week but he will face stiff competition. Dane Thorbjørn Olesen was also part of Europe's winning team in France, recording a resounding Singles victory over Jordan Spieth, and he will fancy his chances against anyone in a match play situation. Webb Simpson, a three time Ryder Cup player for the United States, and Satoshi Kodaira also stand in Molinari's way.

Group 16

Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia are two of their respective teams' very best Ryder Cup competitors in the modern era, but only one of them can make it out of Group 16. And to do so, they will have to get past American Andrew Putnam and Irishman Shane Lowry. Garcia became Europe's all-time leading points scorer in the contest after moving to 25.5 career points in France last year. His fellow Masters Champion Reed has also enjoyed huge success at the Ryder Cup and will hope to have a good week in his native Texas.

Group 9

Three European stars will face each other in Group 9 as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton meet. World Number Nine Xander Schauffele is the other man in this stellar group. Cabrera Bello, Westwood and Hatton have all represented Europe at the Ryder Cup and will fancy their chances in an extremely tight group.

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