Paul McGinley had pencilled Graeme McDowell in for the opening match of Sunday's singles matches in the Ryder Cup long before the event.
The Northern Irishman has won two points at Gleneagles over the past two days and has formed an unbeaten partnership with Victor Dubuisson.
With Europe leading 10-6 going into Sunday's climax McGinley's team only need four points to retain the cup and McDowell will lead the way against Jordan Spieth.
Speaking after announcing his selections for the final day's play the Europe captain revealed he had always wanted McDowell out first in the the singles to set the standard.
"I always had in mind that Graeme was going to play number one," said the 47-year-old. "Since two years ago, I wanted Graeme to play number one if I ever became captain.
"[I] never changed my mind and never shared it with anybody. I only shared it to Graeme on Wednesday when I told him what his role was this week, because Graeme was a guy who wanted to play five matches.
"I told him what I needed him to do. I needed him to play with Victor in one session today because I wanted him fresh to play number one in the singles.
"[I selected him for] a number of reasons: big heart, big player, loves the big occasion.
"And for me, you need a fighter, a real fighter in that first game. That sets the tone for the day.
"That's the guy that goes in with the hard tackle, the first hard tackle in a soccer match and poses in the middle of midfield. Graeme is that kind of guy."
McDowell had the honour of securing the crucial point that won the event at Celtic Manor in 2010.