USA v Europe: Ryder Cup 2021 predictions
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Captains Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker have announced their Friday afternoon Ryder Cup fourball pairings. As predicted, Team USA got off to a strong start in the foursomes matches played at Whistling Straits on Friday morning, and the Europeans will be hoping to close the gap before the end of the day’s play.
Europe’s Spanish pairing of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia recovered from an early setback to power into a three-hole lead after the first 12, helped by a couple of stunning putts from world number one Rahm and some beautiful approach play by Garcia.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas got one back on the 13th as the latter crashed in a birdie putt confidently, but the Europeans rallied to claim the first point of the 43rd Ryder Cup.
Spieth produced a moment of magic after getting lost in the rough on the cliff by the side of the 17th green to somehow flop his ball to within 10 feet of the hole and avoid tumbling into Lake Michigan in the process.
But partner Thomas’ putt was off target to give Europe their first point, and help Garcia match Bernhard Langer’s Ryder Cup total for foursomes.
That was the end of the good news for the visitors, with three pretty comfortable wins for Team USA in the other three foursomes as the hosts raced into an early overall lead.
Their biggest demolition came in the anchor match, with Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele winning each of the first five holes to blow an experienced pair of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter away.
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The American pair made a couple of errors at the start of the back nine which were capitalised upon by their European counterparts, who pulled it back to three down.
But in the end McIlroy and Poulter had left themselves with too much to do to salvage anything out of their first round of the weekend, and Cantlay and Schauffele regained their composure to get themselves over the line.
Elsewhere, Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick battled but were ultimately powerless to prevent a comfortable win for Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.
And it was a similar story for Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, who had their moments but were kept at arm’s length by Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa.
The two major champions secure the point with two holes remaining, with Casey and Hovland’s mix of experience and youth unable to get much joy against the in-form Americans.
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Friday fourballs pairings
Those who did not play in the morning foursomes are set to get their first taste of action at this year’s Ryder Cup.
It’s a baptism of fire for debutant Bernd Weisberger, whose first ever appearance in this competition comes in the first fourballs match and with a lot of pressure to help Team Europe turn the tide.
The German plays alongside Paul Casey, up against Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele.
Team USA have chosen to put their final four untested players together, with Bryson DeChambeau playing alongside Scottie Scheffler and Tony Finau partnering up with Harris English.
Meanwhile, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood will pair up with Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland respectively.
Match 1 – Johnson/Schauffele vs Casey/Weisberger
Match 2 – DeChambeau/Scheffler vs Rahm/Hatton
Match 3 – Finau/English vs McIlroy/Lowry
Match 4 – Thomas/Cantlay vs Fleetwood/Hovland
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