Ryder Cup: United States dominate Friday foursomes; Jon Rahm impresses for Europe

Everything you missed from Friday morning's foursome matches.

Ryder Cup: United States dominate Friday foursomes; Jon Rahm impresses for Europe

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa put on a masterclass in Ryder Cup foursomes on Friday morning.

The world’s Nos. 2 and 3 players defeated Europe’s Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, 3 and 2, in the first session of the biennial event between the United States and Europe.

Through 12 holes at Whistling Straits’ Straits Course in Haven, Wisconsin, the Team TaylorMade combo had made six birdies en route to a 3-up lead over Casey and Hovland. But after losing Nos. 11 and 12, the Europeans scrambled to save par and earn their first win since the fourth hole to briefly cut into the American lead.

Both teams went shot-for-shot with pars on the 14th and 15th holes before the par-5 16th. A great Johnson drive set up a beautiful Morikawa approach from 231 yards out. The two-time major champion just missed the eagle putt to end the match, leaving what would be a tap-in birdie from Morikawa for the win.

Johnson, playing in his fifth Ryder Cup, improved to 2-3-0 in foursomes, while Morikawa earned his first point in his Ryder Cup debut. Casey is now 1-2-0 and Hovland, also in his debut, 0-1-0. The point was the first on the board for Team USA and tied the Europeans, who earlier earned a point from from Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia’s 3-and-1 win over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

– Adam Woodard

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Cantlay, Schauffele roll stalwarts Poulter, McIlroy

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele came out ready to play in the anchor foursomes match, racing to a 5-up lead after five holes en route to a 4-and-3 victory over Europe’s tandem of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

It was a combination of Team USA making three birdies in the first five holes and Team Europe a pair of bogeys at the second and fourth holes to gift wrap what proved to be an insurmountable lead for America’s new dynamic duo.

Cantlay, the FedEx Cup champion, and Schauffele, the Olympic gold medalist, went 2-0 in foursomes at the Presidents Cup and look to be a lock to pair again in the format on Saturday. With Golden State Warrior great Steph Curry watching from greenside, Schauffele drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the fifth hole just when it appeared that Europe might be able to stop the bleeding.

Poulter and McIlroy never found their rhythm. They managed to tie the final four holes in a row on the front nine, including with a three-putt bogey at No. 8, and didn’t make a birdie – or win a hole until the 10th. Team Europe won the 11th hole with a par, but birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 weren’t good enough to cut into the deficit. When Cantlay wedged to three feet at 14 to win the hole and regain a 4-up lead with four holes to play, it was all over but the crying.

Poulter’s reputation as a Ryder Cup hero already is set in stone for his 2012 heroics, but his play in recent years has been rather pedestrian outside of remaining unbeaten in singles. He is 1-4-1 in his last six foursomes-four-ball matches.

– Adam Schupak

Koepka moves to 4-1, teams with Berger to top Westwood, Fitzpatrick

Brooks Koepka kept his impressive Ryder Cup record intact as he and Daniel Berger ran out to an early edge over the tandem of Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick and held on to win, 2 and 1, in an entertaining match that gave the Americans the momentum after the opening set of matches.

Berger, making his first appearance at a Ryder Cup, dropped a short birdie putt on the second hole to give his team the early nod.

On the following hole, the par-3 third, Berger’s iron hit high on a hill, but nudged its way under the hole with a long runout. Koepka then buried a huge putt — even though he was away — and the Americans built a lead they would never relinquish. The Europeans did get a reprieve on No. 9 when Koepka lipped out a short putt, but he redeemed himself with an eight-footer on No. 10 to get the edge back.

It looked like the Americans might close it out on No. 16, but a birdie putt from Berger rested just off the cup’s edge, forcing the match to plod on.
Westwood — who is making his 11 appearance in a Ryder Cup, tying Nick Faldo for the most ever by a European — had a chance to extend the match on the 17th hole with a lengthy putt, but it slipped by the right edge and Koepka, who improved to 4-1 in Ryder Cup action, tapped in a par putt for the victory.

– Tim Schmitt

Rahm acts like world No. 1 in win over American pals

If your partner started draining one hole-winning putt after another, you would have been smiling like Sergio Garcia was on the 10th tee Friday morning.

Playing in his 10th Ryder Cup, Garcia was paired with Jon Rahm in the opening Foursomes match against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. With few European fans in attendance at Whistling Straits due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Europeans fell 1-down after two holes. Still, they roared back to defeat the American duo, 3 and 1, in a match that proved to be especially critical.

By 10 a.m., with the Americans leading in three matches, Rahm started playing the kind of golf that pushed him to the world’s No. 1 ranking and the U.S. Open title three months ago. He was a monster off the tee, a marksman with his irons and time after time holed big putts. In short, he was the stud the European team needed.

Garcia and Rahm made birdies in the alternate-shot format on the third and fourth holes to flip the score from a one-hole deficit to a one-hole advantage. The Americans drew back to all square after Rahm’s approach shot on the par 5 went into the pond of the left of the green. It proved to be Rahm’s only misstep of the morning.

Birdies on the seventh and eighth holes gave Garcia and Rahm a two-hole edge heading to the back nine, and then Thomas’s approach shot from the fairway on the 10th hole checked up and stopped well short. From a similar spot 45 yards from the hole, Garcia’s pitch landed and trundled to within 5 feet of the cup to set up a birdie that won the hole and pushed the European’s lead to 3-up.

The Americans had several opportunities to draw closer in the match, but Thomas’s cold putting hurt the partnership.

An especially frustrating moment came on the 12th hole after Rahm’s tee shot on the 145-yard par-3 stopped 10 feet from the hole. Garcia, who ranked No. 173 in strokes gained putting last season on the PGA Tour, missed the birdie putt, but then Thomas missed a makeable birdie putt that would have brought the European’s lead down to two.

Thomas did make a match-extending six-footer on the 16th hole, but the Americans were dormie on the 17th hole when his tee shot on the par-3 hit a mound on the right, kicked left and rolled off the green into deep rough. Spieth hit a miraculous recovery shot that went over 50 feet in the air and stopped 10 feet from the cup, but Thomas missed the putt, and suddenly it was over and the European team had earned the first point of the 2020 Ryder Cup.

– David Dusek

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U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker breaks up winning teams for afternoon Four-Balls against Europe; we make our predictions

Who's playing Friday afternoon at the Ryder Cup? Two new teams.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker breaks up winning teams for afternoon Four-Balls against Europe; we make our predictions

HAVEN, Wis. – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker said he would not deviate from his script concerning his pairings, no matter what happened Friday morning.

Well, the Americans jumped out to a 3-1 lead as the teams of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, and Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa delivered victories in Foursomes play at Whistling Straits.

Europe’s lone point came in the first match when Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia combined to defeat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Whether or not Stricker changed up things because of what he saw in the morning is unknown, but he is sending out all 12 of his charges on the first day. And he did break up some groups, including the Schauffele-Cantlay team that devoured the European stalwarts, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

For the Four-Balls session, Johnson will play with Schauffele against Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger. In the second match, Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler come off the bench to face Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. In the third match, Tony Finau and Harris English play for the first time against McIlroy and Shane Lowry. In the anchor match, Thomas will partner with Cantlay against Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland.

Europe captain Padraig Harrington is also playing all 12 of his troops.

Sitting in the afternoon for the U.S. are Spieth, Morikawa, Berger and Koepka. Sitting for the Europeans are Poulter, Garcia, Westwood and Fitzpatrick.

Four-Balls pairings and predictions

Friday, Sept. 24

12:10 p.m. ET

Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele (USA) vs. Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger (EUR)

Steve DiMeglio: I can’t see myself taking the European duo. Not a rookie (Wiesberger) and Casey was far from sterling in his Foursomes loss. And Schauffele played as well as anyone in the morning and Johnson was pretty much spot on, too. U.S. wins a full point.

Adam Schupak: This feels like an explosive team to lead Team USA in the afternoon session. Casey didn’t impress in morning foursomes and now he has to lead a rookie out in Four-Balls. Too much firepower for the Euros. Point for Team USA.

12:26 p.m. ET

Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler (USA) vs. Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton (EUR)

Steve DiMeglio: I can’t see myself not picking DeChambeau and Scheffler, who can overpower this course with their length, especially in the calm conditions. Yes, Rahm came up big in the morning and he is world No. 1, but Hatton hasn’t been at his best in a long time. U.S. with another full point.

Adam Schupak: This should be Must-See-TV. DeChambeau is going to bomb driver and Scheffler will be the surprise in this session. He can make birdies in bunches. Rahm had a hot putter this morning, but will he get enough help from Hatton to keep up? I’m not convinced the Euros will make enough birdies in this matchup. Another point for Team USA.

12:42 p.m. ET

Tony Finau and Harris English (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry (EUR)

Steve DiMeglio: I can’t see McIlroy playing as poorly as he did in the morning happening again. And I’ve long thought Lowry would take to this course with glee. Europe wins here.

Adam Schupak: McIlroy has to dust himself off after a morning foursomes beat down. I like this partnership with Lowry, who is making his Cup debut. They’ve played a lot of rounds together and have a close friendship. They won’t let Harrington down. Finau and English will need to make birdies in bunches and are capable of doing so, but I see this being a point for Europe.

12:58 p.m. ET

Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay (USA) vs. Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland (EUR)

Steve DiMeglio: I can’t see a clear winner here. Thomas needs to get his putter working and if he does, and Cantlay plays as well as he has for the last month, look out. But Hovland is a monster and Fleetwood was 4-1-0 in Paris. He’s been off form, as well. I’ll say match ends all-square and the USA ends the first day with a 5½-2½ advantage.

Adam Schupak: This is a quality anchor match. To state the obvious, Thomas has to putt better than he did this morning. He’s a better Four-ball player so I think he and Cantlay, who I’m surprised was separated from Schauffele, can get the job done here. Can Hovland be to Fleetwood what Francesco Molinari was in 2018? I think so, which means I have this match going to 18, but Team USA squeaking out a full point. I’ve got Team USA leading 6-2 after Day One.

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