Europe captain Thomas Bjorn rang the changes on the final day of practice ahead of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, with the Dane appearing to hint at potential pairings for Friday afternoon’s foursome matches.
Thursday morning gave the players one last look at the course ahead of the Opening Ceremony and Bjorn’s opening group was made up of Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter and Thorbjorn Olesen.
That meant McIlroy and Jon Rahm were split up having played together on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Spaniard in the second group alongside Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
he change raises the prospect of McIlroy playing with debutant Olesen on Friday, having performed a similar role with Thomas Pieters two years ago at Hazeltine.
Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren were in the final group – Noren having won the French Open at Le Golf National in July.
In contrast, United States captain Jim Furyk kept Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the same group for the second day running, with a Woods-Reed pairing looking increasingly certain.
Reed and Spieth had formed a superb partnership in 2014 and 2016, but Spieth and Thomas are close friends and it would be no surprise to see them playing together this week.
Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau were in the same group for the third day in succession and were joined by Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, while the final group contained former partners Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson and Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka.