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.
Photos: 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin
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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
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.
Photos: Fans at the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits
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– 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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