by Ronan MacNamara
Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter by Golffile
Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter were on the end of a hammering at the hands of rookie pair Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay which helped the USA race into a 3-1 lead after the opening foursomes session this morning at Whistling Straits.
The damage was done in the first five holes for McIlroy and Poulter who were in no mans land at 5DOWN.
The all-Spanish pair of Jon Rahm and Sergio registered the first point of the 43rd Ryder Cup courtesy of a 3&1 win over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
The match was played out to a dramatic conclusion as Spieth played one of the most miraculous recovery shots you’ll ever see from an almost horizontal stance from the left of the 17th green.
Spieth flopped the ball high into orbit and his weight almost sent him tumbling into the water, the ball landed on a sixpence and finished five-feet from the hole, but Thomas who had a cold putter all day saw his putt to keep the match alive slip by.
Seven of the last eleven Ryder Cups have gone the way of the team who has won the opening match.
Rahm and Garcia combined well with Sergio’s driving and Rahm’s clinical nature on the greens and both were happy to draw first blood.
“It felt great,” Garcia said. “The best thing is that I knew I had Jon by my side and I wouldn’t change him for anyone.
“He was amazing, he made every putt he had to make. It was a good match, Jordan and Justin played well so we had to play very well to beat them.
“When you have this guy hitting the ball it’s easy to be relaxed,” Rahm said of his partner.
“I knew my job on the front nine was going to be putting and even as silly as it may sound the four footer on one gave me so much confidence and the difference was we made putts at the right time.”
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa quickly levelled matters thanks to a 3&2 win over Paul Casey and Victor Hovland.
DJ and Morikawa carded a remarkable seven birdies in their 16 holes which made them too hot to handle for the European duo who didn’t do much wrong with just the two bogeys on the card.
Harrington’s men, particularly Casey were burning edges on the greens all morning and the holes just ran out on them.
The stars of the show were Cantlay and Schauffele who are now 3-2-0 in their five matches together across Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
The rookie pair went to town on the European pair racing into a 5UP lead through five holes. McIlroy and Poulter could have reduced the arears by one but clumsily three-putted the 8th hole which was largely the fault of the Northern Irishman who raced a 25-foot putt six-feet by when they only needed two putts.
The Europeans staged a brief fightback with wins on ten and eleven to move to within three and raise hopes of the most unlikely of comebacks.
Schauffele came up trumps for Stricker’s side with clinical approaches to kick in range on 12 and 13 to keep the Europeans at bay with crucial halves, before Cantlay slammed the door shut in their face when he nearly holed out from 90 yards on the 14th before McIlroy’s putter let him down once again and he missed the putt for a half.
The final nail in the coffin came at the 15th as Cantlay and Schauffele gave the Americans the overall lead for the first time in the Ryder Cup and rounded off a thumping 5&3 win.
The most eyebrow raising pairing selected by Harrington was the combination of Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick, a rather dry pairing who were up against it from the off against Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.
In a pairing that won’t strike fear into anyone they were comfortably dispatched by their American opponents 2&1 to give Stricker’s charges the dream start and leave Harrington scratching his head.