Seve's memory brings tears to Olazabal's eyes as Timberlake opens the 39th Ryder Cup
00:20 GMT, 28 September 2012
The 39th Ryder Cup exploded into life with a star-studded opening ceremony in Chicago, at which Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wept over the memory of his late, great friend, Seve Ballesteros.
American pop star Justin Timberlake hosted the bash at Medinah Country Club and there was also a guest appearance from 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps.
Olazabal and his American counterpart, David Love III, rounded off the night by announcing the pairings for Friday's foursomes, which will get the real action underway at 1.20pm UK time.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are in Europe's first group, meaning one of the Northern Irishmen will tee off the competition as Europe have the honour as the visiting team. The Ulstermen will take on Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.
Great friends: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wipes away a tear at the mention of Seve Ballesteros
All the players on both teams were
introduced by their captains, and were accompanied by their wives and
girlfriends – with the notable absence of tennis star Caroline
Wozniacki, McIlroy's partner, who is busy at a tournament in Tokyo.
Olazabal also delivered a moving
speech that made reference to Ballesteros, his fellow Spaniard, former
Ryder Cup partner and close friend, who passed away last May after
battling with a brain tumour.
Europe's captain had to take a moment to compose himself while speaking before wiping tears away from his eyes.
In the second game Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, both unbeaten in foursomes in the match, take on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, like Snedeker a cup rookie.
Lee Westwood has been given Italian Francesco Molinari as his partner – they face Zach Johnson and another debutant in Jason Dufner – while Tiger Woods is kept until last by home captain Davis Love.
Line up: USA (left) and Europe (right) players stand on the stage during the opening ceremony
Woods and Steve Stricker will take on Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who has spoken of wanting to 'kill' his opponents in the biennial competition.
Poulter has faced Woods twice before and lost both times, but has won eight of his other nine games.
The action starts at 7.20am local time and the foursomes will be followed by afternoon fourballs.
Woods and Stricker boast a 6-2 winning record together, but their last two games were the 6&5 drubbing by Westwood and Donald in Wales two years ago and then a 7&6 hammering by Adam Scott and KJ Choi at the start of last November's Presidents Cup. They did not play together again that week after that.
Cool customers: Europe's Graeme McDowell and USA's Phil Mickelson (right) are introduced to the crowd
It means the four left out by Olazabal, who cried during the opening ceremony at the first mention of the late Seve Ballesteros, were Scot Paul Lawrie, Germany's former world No 1 Martin Kaymer, Swede Peter Hanson and Belgian newcomer Nicolas Colsaerts.
The quartet kept waiting to play by Love were his two major winners this year – Masters champion Bubba Watson and US Open champion Webb Simpson – plus Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
It would have been a huge shock if McIlroy and McDowell were not together again.
The captains: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Davis Love III lead their teams out at the opening ceremony
Close friends and compatriots, they had a modest one win, one half and one loss at Celtic Manor two years ago, but won three out of four in the 2009 Seve Trophy in Paris and have twice been World Cup partners as well.
In Donald, Garcia and Westwood Europe can call on three players with outstanding foursomes records in the event.
Donald will be looking to make it a perfect seven out of seven. His first four wins in 2004 and 2006 came with Garcia as his partner and two years ago he won with Poulter and then with Westwood.
Ready to go: USA's Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods are introduced during the opening ceremony
Opening pair: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy will elad off the European team
Garcia is unbeaten in nine foursomes, eight of them victories, while Westwood has not lost any of his last 10 games in the format going back to 1999.
His partners in that time have been Darren Clarke, Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Kaymer and Donald – and now he links up with the Italian whose debut two years ago came alongside his brother Edoardo.
A month after that Molinari pipped Westwood to his first world championship title in Shanghai – with the best of the rest nine shots further back.
Meet the team: The European players and support staff at Medinah Country Club
Garcia remains the only teenager ever to appear in the match, his debut in 1999 coming a month after he and Woods battled for the USPGA Championship at Medinah. Jesper Parnevik was his first partner and they won their opening three games and got a half in the other, while in subsequent foursomes the Spaniard has won with Westwood, Donald and Olazabal.
Rose and Poulter won two of their three games together four years ago, Rose not making the 2010 match despite winning twice in America that summer.
Mickelson has won only two of his last 14 pairs games in the event, but was always expected to start with Bradley in his ninth appearance, an American record.
Centre stage: Justin Timberlake was the compere for the opening ceremony in Chicago
Inspiration: America's 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps speaks during the opening ceremony
Olazabal told the crowd in his speech his side 'have every intention of taking it (the cup) back home' with them and also managed to pay his latest tribute to his former partner Ballesteros, who died in May last year following a long battle with a brain tumour.
'Of course I can't forget a great friend in the name of Seve Ballesteros,' he said. 'He was a special man. I believe Seve reflected the core of Ryder Cup values – no quitting and be prepared to chase any adversity.
'From him I learnt what true passion is all about. Seve, we miss you.'
Support: The European team's wives and girfriends were in attendance at the big event
Catwalk: Diane Donald (left), wife of Europe star Luke, leads out the players' wives and girlfriends
Olazabal was also asked what advice Ballesteros would give him.
'Just play hard, play with passion and win the damn points,' added Olazabal.
Told that Molinari's inclusion as an eighth different partner for Westwood in his eighth appearance was somewhat surprising, Olazabal added: 'Well it might surprise you, but when you look at Francesco's game, he's a steady player. He very rarely misses a shot. He's straight off the tee. He hits good iron shots.
Choking back the tears: Jose Maria Olazabal took a moment to compose himself when talking about Seve
'And that's pretty much what you look for when you are playing foursomes. So you have to have the guys that are consistent and I felt that Francesco is one of those guys.'
All eight omitted from the opening session will be hoping to enter the fray in the afternoon fourballs.
Speaking about his pair, Woods said: 'Strick and I are very comfortable together. We've had some pretty good success over the years and we both have been playing well.
Shady: Justin Rose and Bubba Watson (right) and Lee Westwood (left) and Tiger Woods
'Our captain said that would be a good fit and he wanted us out there to anchor.
'We know each other's game and we practise a lot together at tournaments. We know what to expect from each other.'
And Mickelson said: 'I'm really excited to play with Keegan – we have been wanting it for a while.
'We have a very difficult match. Luke I don't think has ever lost in foursomes and we are hopefully going to change that.'
Snedeker stated: '[I'm] really excited. Jim is playing great and a great guy to lean on. He's got so much experience.'