U.S. Team enjoys successful first day at Ryder Cup
September 24, 2021
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- September 24, 2021
- Justin Thomas was fired up after a crucial eagle in the afternoon Four-ball session to help the U.S. build its lead. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
FRIDAY AFTERNOON FOUR-BALL
The U.S. Team went 3-1 for the second consecutive session in the Friday afternoon Four-ball session, extending their lead to 6-2 as they try to win the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
Two wins and two ties gave the Americans a nice lead as they try to reverse recent history. Europe has won four of the last five and seven of the last seven Ryder Cups.
The flagsticks and even the wooden signposts on the tees were swaying in 20-25 mph winds.
The most positive development for the Americans was Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau pouring in birdie putts from everywhere on the back nine, leading their respective teams to victory. But Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas salvaging a tie in the last match also felt like a win.
The U.S. Team had struggled mightily in the second session, losing the Friday afternoon matches by a combined 10.5-1.5 over the last three Ryder Cups.
MATCH 1: Dustin Johnson/Xander Schauffele, USA, def. Paul Casey/Bernd Wiesberger, EUR, 2 and 1
A great ham-and-egg effort as Schauffele rolled in birdie putts at the first and third holes and Johnson birdied the par-5 fifth before really heating up on the back nine. The U.S. went 3 up through five holes, but rookie Wiesberger made his second birdie of the round at the sixth, and Casey birdied the ninth to cut it to 1 up. Johnson restored order. He knocked in a four-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th and converted from 16 feet to birdie the 11th as the U.S. took a 3-up lead with Michael Jordan among those cheering on the Americans. Johnson made his third straight birdie at the 12th but Wiesberger covered it to stay in touch.
Quotes: “It’s always nice when you’ve got DJ free-flowin’ and playing some great golf.” – Xander Schauffele
“The wind blew all day from start to finish. It played really difficult, not only getting shots close to the hole but you’re playing wind on all the putts.” – Dustin Johnson
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 5, EUR 1
MATCH 2: Bryson DeChambeau/Scottie Scheffler, USA, tied Tyrrell Hatton/Jon Rahm, EUR
Tyrrell Hatton made a seven-foot birdie putt on 18 to salvage half a point from a wild match in which DeChambeau showed his firepower. After plunking a fan at the first, his approach from the native area set up a birdie from 9 feet, 4 inches. He was in trouble at the third but rolled in a 21-foot par putt. He hit a 417-yard drive and eagled the par-5 fifth hole, and birdied again from 21 feet at the long, par-4 eighth hole. Hatton kept Europe in it, though, and Rahm birdied the ninth to tie it up. Scheffler swung it back in the Americans’ favor with a birdie at 10, Rahm tied it again with a birdie at 11, and Rahm and DeChambeau both nearly aced the par-3 12th hole for offsetting birdies. DeChambeau’s par save at 15 gave the U.S. a 1-up lead with three remaining, and Scheffler birdied the par-5 16th to protect the lead until Hatton’s heroics at the last.
Quotes: “A few mistakes here and there, but other than it was a pretty solid day.” – Scottie Scheffler
“I have a great partner here and loved every minute of it.” – Bryson DeChambeau
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 5.5, EUR 1.5
MATCH 3: Harris English/Tony Finau, USA, def. Shane Lowry/Rory McIlroy, EUR, 4 and 3
It was the Tony Finau show as McIlroy lost two matches on the same day for the first time in his Ryder Cup career. There were dueling fist pumps from the rookies – Lowry after a long par putt at the fourth hole, English after his first birdie at the eighth – and plenty of fireworks. McIlroy eagled the par-5 fifth from 31 feet behind the hole to give the Europeans a 1-up lead. Finau drove the sixth green with a 3-wood and birdied to tie it up again. English birdied eight, and Finau nine and 10 to get the U.S. crowd into as the Americans built a 3-up lead. One more Finau birdie at the par-4 13th hole – his sixth of the afternoon – gave the Americans a 4-up lead. Fittingly, it was Finau who closed it out with a par at the par-4 15th hole.
Quotes: “Tony putted unbelievably; it’s hard to putt with these wind gusts.” – Harris English.
“I love pressure.” – Tony Finau
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 4, EUR 1
MATCH 4: Patrick Cantlay/Justin Thomas, USA, tied Tommy Fleetwood/Viktor Hovland, EUR
One of two matches that went to the 18th hole. After struggling with the putter in the morning, Thomas came alive starting with a 12-footer for birdie at the opening hole. It was a sign of things to come, but Hovland chipped in for birdie at the par-3 third and made par at the hard par-4 fourth hole to give Europe a 1-up lead. Fleetwood birdied the sixth and eighth holes and Europe built a 3-up lead. Thomas made another putt again at the ninth to cut the lead to 2 up, cupping his ear and yelling to the crowd. Cantlay cut it to 1 up with a tap-in birdie at the par-3 12th hole, and Thomas tied it up with a rowdy eagle from 17 feet at the par-5 16th hole.
"It's fun because this is what we love to do. This is our job, but the opportunity to do this in front of our fans and do it, the opportunity to be the last match of the day, we fought like hell to halve that match." - Justin Thomas
"He carried me around all day today." - Patrick Cantlay
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 6, EUR 2
FRIDAY MORNING FOURSOMES
The U.S. Team awoke memories of their last Ryder Cup victory with a dominant opening Foursomes session, surging to an early 3-1 lead over Europe at Whistling Straits.
Only a Spanish resistance from World No.1 Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia stopped a U.S. Team juggernaut that found success in the alternate shot format for just the second time in the last seven Ryder Cup sessions.
Not since a 4-0 whitewash to open the contest at Hazeltine in 2016 – where the U.S. went on to victory for the only time in the last five Ryder Cups – have they showed such prowess in Foursomes.
The highlight for the U.S. was the anchor team of FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay and Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele, who were each Ryder Cup rookies. They won the first five holes and thumped the more experienced side of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, 5 and 3.
“Making birdie on the first, dream start when Xander hit a great shot in there and the way we won two was big for momentum and birdie on three, best start I could imagine,” Cantlay said of his first Cup match. “Xander rolled in that putt on five and then we were rolling. A start like that, I'm really glad we kept our nerve and kept our foot down.”
The Spanish team of Garcia and Rahm put the first point on the board for Europe with a 3 and 1 win over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, but there weren’t many highlights for European Captain Padraig Harrington after that.
“It felt great, but I knew who I had on my side and I wouldn't change him for anyone, it was amazing,” Garcia said. “He made every putt he had to make, and it was a good match. Don't get me wrong. Jordan and Justin, they played well, and we had to play very, very well to beat them. So it was a well-played match and very happy to be able to get a point for Europe.”
MATCH 1: Sergio Garcia/Jon Rahm, EUR, def. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas, USA, 3 and 1
Recap: Spieth and Thomas putted poorly and failed to take advantage of a shaky start for Europe on the opening holes. Garcia, Europe’s all-time leading point earner, settled down from tee to green, while Rahm holed a succession of birdie putts. The longest of these came at the fourth, where Europe was in trouble in the left rough until Garcia hacked out to the front of the green and Rahm holed from 58 1/2 feet for birdie. The Europeans won the seventh, eighth and 10th to take a 3-up lead. The U.S. birdied the par-4 13th to cut the lead, but Spieth and Thomas couldn’t find the range with the putter and Garcia converted on 15 to go 3 up again with three to play. The U.S. made it respectable with a two-putt birdie on 16 but wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
Quotes: "We made a couple of putts at the right time. That was the difference maker. And momentum is a big thing in match play, and that's what you saw today." - Jon Rahm
"We went out there and we did what we had to do against a very difficult American couple, and just excited that we could get the point for Europe." - Sergio Garcia
"Sometimes you run into a buzzsaw. Played well. Would have won a lot of matches the way we played today." - Jordan Spieth
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 0, EUR 1
MATCH 2: Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa, USA, def. Paul Casey/Viktor Hovland EUR, 3 and 2
Recap: Ryder Cup rookie Morikawa looked comfortable from the start as the Americans birdied six of the first 12 holes to take a 3-up lead. U.S. Captain Steve Stricker’s squad was always going to be heavily reliant on the rookies, who comprise half the team, and Morikawa delivered. He looked at ease as he took on the opening tee shot at the short, par-4 first hole, and set up an easy two-putt birdie with a fairway wood that found the green in two at the par-5 16th hole.
Quotes: “Everyone knows he’s a really good iron player, and if I’m driving it in the fairway, we’re going to be a pretty tough team.” – Dustin Johnson
“We made a couple mistakes but we kept our heads in it and fought back.” – Collin Morikawa
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 1, EUR 1
MATCH 3: Daniel Berger/Brooks Koepka, USA, def. Matt Fitzpatrick/Lee Westwood, EUR, 2 and 1
Recap: The all-Florida State team of Berger and Koepka birdied three of the first five holes to establish a lead they would nurse for the rest of the match. Westwood and Fitzpatrick didn’t make it easy, but they also didn’t make any birdies other than Fitzpatrick holing from just over 11 feet at the sixth hole. With the European side flat, the Americans could afford a few mistakes. Neither team was especially sharp, with both sides missing badly at the par-3 17th hole, but the Americans did just enough as Westwood couldn’t salvage par to keep the Europeans alive.
Quotes: "We have two different styles of games. I'm more methodical and he's more bomb-and-gauge. When you pair us up together, we complement each other's games. And I felt like we could have played much better today, but in the end the bottom line is we have to earn a point, and we did that today." - Daniel Berger
"We did what you're supposed to do, go out and win our match, and that's all we can do and we did that. Pretty pleased." - Brooks Koepka
"We played well enough to win that match. They got the breaks. We didn't. They holed a couple more putts and we didn't and we didn't take the chances when we had them." - Lee Westwood.
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 3, EUR 1
MATCH 4: Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele, USA def. Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter, EUR, 5 and 3
Recap: The anchor match was all but over early as Cantlay and Schauffele went 5 up through the first five holes and cruised. Cantlay, who three weeks ago won the FedExCup, was just as steady as he’d been at the TOUR Championship at East Lake. Olympic gold medalist Schauffele was solid with the putter. Meanwhile, Europe and especially McIlroy struggled, failing to make a birdie and going 3 over par for the opening nine holes. They cut the lead to 3 down to give themselves a glimmer of hope, but Schauffele nearly made an ace at the par-3 12th hole, leaving a tap-in birdie to steady the U.S. team. While they went 2-0 in Foursomes at the 2019 Presidents Cup, Cantlay and Schauffele were each playing their first Ryder Cup match.
Quotes: "We find comfort in each other. Pat's as calm as they come. He's stoic and is not fazed by any noise. So he walked up on the first tee and struck that first tee shot, and all of a sudden all the nerves were gone." - Xander Schauffele
"I like locking in and focusing. That's one of the things I'm best at. And this tournament is one of the pinnacles of that." - Patrick Cantlay
"The start wasn't great. I don't know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today. They played really good, four birdies in a row. They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played." - Rory McIlroy
Score at match’s conclusion: USA 2, EUR 1