Rory McIlroy benched after rough Friday at Ryder Cup
September 24, 2021
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy lost two matches in the same day for the first time in his Ryder Cup career. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – European lynchpin Rory McIlroy has been benched at the Ryder Cup for the first time in his career after a dreadful Friday at Whistling Straits.
McIlroy was left out of Saturday mornings Foursomes pairings by Captain Padraig Harrington after two heavy and demoralizing defeats on the opening day.
The 32-year-old lost 5 and 3 with Ian Poulter in Friday Foursomes against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay before backing up in Four-ball with Shane Lowry – only to be dominated 4 and 3 against Tony Finau and Harris English.
It was the first time in his Ryder Cup career McIlroy had lost twice in one day. But he wasn’t the only European player to find the going tough with the U.S. taking a commanding 6-2 lead as they look to win the Cup back for just the second time in the last six attempts.
McIlroy has played every possible session in his Ryder Cup career since making his debut in 2010. He did miss the second Four-ball session at Celtic Manor in Wales that year but only due to bad weather affecting play. Captains were forced to adjust on the run leaving players with a maximum of four sessions as the schedule condensed before a Monday finish.
Despite the shellacking Harrington claimed the two-time FedExCup champion would bounce back and he had no concerns with McIlroy’s leadership.
“He's already a leader. You saw him out there after a tough day, he was out following those matches and supporting his team,” Harrington said. “He is very much a leader amongst his peers and I couldn't have asked more from him during the year, I couldn't have asked more from him today.
“The golf didn't go as well as he would have liked, but I'm not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team.”
McIlroy found himself behind the eight-ball from the get-go and never recovered. Ryder Cup rookies in recent FedExCup champion Cantlay and Olympic Gold medalist Schauffele won the first five holes in their Foursomes encounter and despite a small lull mid round, came home with a vengeance.
They birdied their last four holes to close out the match on the 15th.
“The start wasn't great. I don't know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today. They played really good,” McIlroy lamented. “They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played.”
In the afternoon session McIlroy looked primed to turn his day around when an eagle at the par-5 5th produced a 1 up lead but it went pear-shaped from there. He failed to find a birdie from that point on and made two bogeys. Lowry could only manage a string of pars while Finau fired up.
Rory McIlroy rolls in 31-foot eagle putt at the Ryder Cup
After driving the par-4 6th green to secure a birdie Finau added more on nine, 10 and 13 while English chimed in with one on the par-4 8th to rout the Irish/Northern Irish connection.
“The last two sessions, Xander, Patrick, played wonderful, and I haven't seen Tony putt as good as that in a long time,” McIlroy said. “When you have got a couple of pairs like that on form, on a difficult golf course where it's sort of hard to make birdies and they go on runs, if you're not quite a hundred percent on top of your game, it's tough.”
Despite the poor start McIlroy was still of the opinion Europe could stage a comeback. That effort will have to start without him though.
“We can come back from 6-2. If it's 6-2, we can come back,” he stressed.