Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia def. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas 3 and 1
Rahm and Garcia stole the show early, as Garcia knocked down flagsticks and Rahm poured in the putts as the Europeans won the eighth and the ninth to take a 2-up lead thru 9 holes. Rahm made over 100 feet of putts on the front nine alone as he did his part to silence the American crowd.
Another European win at the 10th further increased their lead. Thomas and Spieth got one back at the 13th but Rahm and Garcia responded with a win at the 15th to go 3-up with three to play. Jordan Spieth pulled a rabbit out of his hat with an unbelievable flop shot from the left side of the par-3 16th, but Justin Thomas couldn’t make the putt as the Euros took the opening point of the 2021 Ryder Cup.
Garcia and Rahm form a Spanish pairing that looks a lot like the old Spanish pairing of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal from the last generation. The Spaniards certainly like going to war with each other.
“I knew who I had on my side and I wouldn't change him for anyone, it was amazing. He made every putt he had to make, and it was a good match,” Garcia said.
Rahm also knew who he had on his side, and they were feeling exactly what we were seeing.
“When you have this (Garcia) guy hitting the ball it's easy to be relaxed. Even as silly as it may sound, the 4-footer on 1, perfect pace, and making it dead center gave me so much confidence that when I had a couple of chances I was able to make it,” Rahm said.
Match Takeaways: Thomas and Spieth played well—3-under on the day with just one bogey—but Rahm and Garcia look like they’re going to be a problem for the Americans.
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa def. Paul Casey/Viktor Hovland 3 and 2
Morikawa and Johnson took an early 1-up lead at the first but Casey and Hovland quickly responded with two wins at 3 and 4 to take the lead. Wins at 6 and 7 gave the Americans the lead again, and wins at the 11th and 12th gave Morikawa and Johnson a commanding 3-up lead. Casey and Hovland got one back at the 13th but the US was able to close it out on 16 for the win.
“We both had similar kind of games the way we played, we both played a little left-to-right, obviously he's a really good iron play. I drive the ball pretty well, so I know if I can drive it in the fairway, we are going to shoot some good scores,” Johnson said.
Match Takeaways: Morikawa and DJ appear to be a perfect match for this format. Casey and Hovland look like a good pairing despite the loss. This match appeared to be relatively even, but it was the US who was able to grind out a victory.
Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger def. Lee Westwood/Matt Fitzpatrick
Berger and Koepka took an early two up lead thru five holes but the Europeans got one back at the 6th. The US led for most of the front nine but a short par miss by Koepka at the 9th leveled the match heading to the back nine.
The miscue at the 9th didn’t bother the American side as they won the 10th and 11th with birdies and kept their lead thru the finish.
Match Takeaways: The Americans didn’t have their best, but two of the game’s best grinders found a way to put more red on the board and sustain the Americans’ momentum. Koepka’s game won’t always turn heads, but the guy just finds a way to win, and this week has been no different so far.
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele def. Rory Mcilroy/Ian Poulter 5 and 3
Cantlay and Schauffele sent shockwaves through Whistling Straits with a hot start that saw the Americans win the first five holes. Schauffele walked in a lengthy birdie putt at the 5th, showing everyone that the two rookies were ready to go.
Mcilroy and Poulter gave the European fans a sliver of hope for a comeback when they won the 10th and 11th to cut the Americans lead to three, but Schauffele and Cantlay never wavered. They won the 14th to eliminate all hopes of a comeback and closed things out at the 15th after Schauffele flagged yet another iron shot.
The pairing of Cantlay and Schauffele was just as comfortable as it looked.
“We feel very comfortable playing with each other. We're good friends. I know it's a big scene and a big crowd and long awaited, but it was another day for Pat and I. We play every week multiple times, and happy to run with Pat,” Schauffele said.
Match Takeaways: Cantlay and Schauffele looked like a perfect foursomes pairing on paper, but even the most optimistic of American fans could’ve predicted a scoreline this one-sided against to European Ryder Cup stalwarts. It’s early, but Cantlay and Schauffele look like they could be the breakout superstar pairing this week.
Session Takeaways: Europe has dominated the Ryder Cup for the better part of the last two decades, however they have struggled in Friday foursomes, as they haven’t lead after the first session since 2006. The US came in as the favorites and did exactly what they needed to do, win the opening session and take control of the matches early. It will be an uphill battle for the Europeans, but they’ve done it before and may do it again this week.