Sat. Oct 16th, 2021


Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm reflect on securing Team Europe's first point of the Ryder Cup with a 3&1 victory over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

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Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm reflect on securing Team Europe’s first point of the Ryder Cup with a 3&1 victory over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm reflect on securing Team Europe’s first point of the Ryder Cup with a 3&1 victory over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

Sergio Garcia said it was an honour to play alongside fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm and hit the first tee shot in the opening match at the 43rd Ryder Cup.

The 41-year-old is making his 10th Ryder Cup appearance for Europe but it was still an exciting occasion for him as the duo paired up to beat United States pair Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 3&1 in the first foursomes at Whistling Straits.

The point gave Europe a good start but the Americans dominated the morning session as they won the other three matches to take an early 3-1 lead.

“Even though this is my 10th Ryder Cup, I was very honoured to play with Jon. It’s something that I wanted to do for a while,” said Garcia, who equalled Sir Nick Faldo’s all-time record for matches won at the Ryder Cup (23) with the victory.

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia gave Europe a winning start in the Ryder Cup foursomes

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia gave Europe a winning start in the Ryder Cup foursomes

“I was very honoured to hit the first tee shot, and it was just amazing how well we both played and how Jon stepped up every time he had to do it. It was great.

“Unfortunately it’s not looking the way we wanted it to look. We did what we had to do against a very difficult American couple, and just excited that we could get the point for Europe and hopefully rally a little bit this afternoon.”

World No 1 Rahm, meanwhile, was pleased to claim his first Ryder Cup point outside of the singles alongside his compatriot.

Rahm and Garcia on the first tee in the early-morning Wisconsin sunshine

Rahm and Garcia on the first tee in the early-morning Wisconsin sunshine

He said: “A little bit of pressure to play with somebody like that, but at the same time, with his ball-striking, I knew my job was going to be to make some putts, and that’s exactly what I did early on, and we kept the vibe going.

“Felt so good out there. Such a complete day, and I think everybody out there was feeling what we were feeling. And it was a really fun day.”

Morikawa: We found a little groove

The second match saw USA duo Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa rattle in seven birdies as they saw off Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland 3&2.

Collin Morikawa, 24, is the youngest player on the USA team, while Dustin Johnson is the oldest at 37

Collin Morikawa, 24, is the youngest player on the USA team, while Dustin Johnson is the oldest at 37

Open champion Morikawa, who is making his Ryder Cup debut, said: “Dustin has been one of the best players in the world for a long time and to have someone like that, to have my first match in the Ryder Cup, I trust him a lot and it felt very comfortable.

“Thankfully I’ve been able to build a friendship with him and it’s very easy going. We are out there playing like another day trying to win and make as many points and birdies out there and we just found a little groove.”

Johnson added: “I feel like we’re great partners, especially in the foursome matches. It was great. We played really solid.”

Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson discuss winning the first point for Team USA with a 3&2 victory over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland at Whistling Straits

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Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson discuss winning the first point for Team USA with a 3&2 victory over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland at Whistling Straits

Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson discuss winning the first point for Team USA with a 3&2 victory over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland at Whistling Straits

European rookie Hovland said: “I thought we played a great match. The US team made a lot of birdies and we didn’t really make that many mistakes. We just didn’t make enough putts to keep the momentum going, but I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Casey added: “I think Dustin and Collin played really good golf, didn’t they. I’m not sure the score but they played really, really lovely stuff. Tip your hat. Viktor was an absolute stud. Absolutely enjoyed playing with him.”

Berger: We could have played much better

Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger have played together a lot in the past and the American duo teamed up to defeat English pair Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick 2&1, although Berger felt they were below their best.

He said: “We have two different styles of games. I’m more methodical and he’s more bomb-and-gauge. When you pair us up together, we complement each other’s games. I felt like we could have played much better today, but in the end, the bottom line is we have to earn a point, and we did that today.”

Koepka was a little more upbeat about their performance, adding: “I think there’s some part of knowing your partner and understanding the little nuances, comfortable over a shot, they love it, they don’t like it, you can tell and that helps. We played really well today, solid and hit a lot of good putts that didn’t even go in. Played solid tee-to-green as well.”

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Westwood, meanwhile, felt he and Fitzpatrick were a little unfortunate not to get something out of the match.

“We played well enough to win that match,” he said. “They got the breaks. We didn’t. They holed a couple more putts and we didn’t and we didn’t take the chances when we had them. That was the first bogey that we made all day on 17, so we played well. It’s just like that in the Ryder Cup. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Fitzpatrick added: “I think we missed two greens all day. Lee put on a bit of an exhibition tee-to-green to be fair, and I didn’t take the chances when I had them.”

Cantlay: The pressure was all on them

The real statement of intent from the Americans came in the anchor match as Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele stunned Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3, repelling a rally from the experienced European pair after the rookie home duo had won the first five holes.

Xander Schauffele paid tribute to playing partner Patrick Cantlay after despatching Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3

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Xander Schauffele paid tribute to playing partner Patrick Cantlay after despatching Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3

Xander Schauffele paid tribute to playing partner Patrick Cantlay after despatching Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3

“It’s exactly what we wanted,” said Cantlay. “We want those kind of match-ups. I think I speak for Xander a little bit here, but that’s what it’s all about. We were excited when we saw that pairing, and all the pressure is on them.

“They have seen it all and they are expected to maybe have a little veteran edge, and I was really glad we got that pairing.”

Highlights from Cantlay and Schauffele's victory

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Highlights from Cantlay and Schauffele’s victory

Highlights from Cantlay and Schauffele’s victory

Schauffele added: “We have each other’s back, and Pat and I don’t talk a whole lot. I think everyone who knows us, especially when we play, we don’t talk a whole lot. So he’ll walk ahead or I’ll walk ahead and we just kind of give each other looks, and that’s enough to sort of build on momentum. We are similar in that sense and I think that’s very helpful when competing.”

McIlroy admitted they were beaten by the better pair and praised the Americans.

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter had no answer to the fine form of Cantlay and Schauffele

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter had no answer to the fine form of Cantlay and Schauffele

He said: “The start wasn’t great. I don’t know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today. They played really good, four birdies in a row. Geez, yeah, they played great. They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played.”

Poulter added: “A shame because we actually played quite well. You know, they have played exceptionally good golf in foursomes. It’s not nice to get off to the start five-down through five. Not easy to come back, and they finished the match off.”

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