SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The United States took an early lead at the Ryder Cup on Friday behind the strong play of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, who ran over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter in their foursomes match at Whistling Straits.
The U.S. won three of the four matches, with Cantlay and Schauffele racing to a 5-up lead over what was supposed to be the solid team of McIlroy and Poulter. They didn’t lose a hole until the 10th and cruised to a 5 and 3 victory.
The Americans lead 3-1 after the first session, with four-ball (best ball) to take place in the afternoon.
“The start wasn’t great,” McIlroy said of falling five holes down. “I don’t know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today. “They played good, four birdies in a row. Geez, they played great. They were a great pairing today and all you can do is praise them for the way they played.”
Europe has not won the opening session at the Ryder Cup dating to 2006, but still managed to win that year as well as in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018. In other words, an early U.S. lead is of little consequence.
The only team that failed to deliver any points for the Americans was the one considered its best: Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. They went 3-1 in Paris three years ago and are expected to be frequent partners.
Thomas and Spieth ran into considerable trouble against Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, who took the lead for good with a birdie at the par-3 seventh and never led by less than two holes the rest of the way. They ended up with a 3 and 1 victory.
“It felt great,” Garcia said. “I knew who I had on my side. I wouldn’t change him for anyone. He was amazing. He made every putt he had to make. Jordan and Justin played well and we had to play really, really well to beat them.”
The Rahm-Garcia tandem made six birdies in the alternate-shot format while Thomas and Smith managed just three.
“Sometimes you run into a buzzsaw,” Spieth said. “I think the only missed green in regulation [Thomas] had was on 17, and even that was on line and shouldn’t have been a missed green. Played well. Would have won a lot of matches the way we played today.”
Friday afternoon’s four-ball pairings and tee times (ET) are as follows:
Dustin Johnson/Xander Schauffele vs. Paul Casey/Bernd Wiesberger 1:10 p.m
Bryson DeChambeau/Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton 1:26 p.m.
Tony Finau/Harris English vs. Rory McIlroy/Shane Lowry 1:42 p.m.
Justin Thomas/Patrick Cantlay vs. Tommy Fleetwood/Viktor Hovland 1:58 p.m.