What You Missed
Ryder Cup 2021: Everything you need to know about Saturday morning's foursomes session
HAVEN, Wis. — Saturday brought drama and suspense to the Ryder Cup after a one-sided trouncing of a day on Friday. That suspense did not necessarily close the gap on the overall scoreboard, but Saturday’s foursomes session featured competitive matches, sizable comebacks, rules drama, some competitive and antagonistic tensions, and increasing European agitation with the American crowd. In short, it was everything we’ve come to expect and love from the Ryder Cup. Here’s a capsule breakdown of what happened:
- Sergio Garcia & Jon Rahm (EUR) df. Brooks Koepka & Daniel Berger, 3&1
- Dustin Johnson & Collin Morikawa (USA) df. Paul Casey & Tyrrell Hatton, 2&1
- Justin Thomas & Jordan Spieth (USA) df. Viktor Hovland & Bernd Wiesberger, 2 up
- Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele (USA) df. Lee Westwood & Matt Fitzpatrick, 2&1
- United States wins session, 3-1, and leads Europe, 9-3
The Big Picture: European Fight vs. USA Might
The Saturday morning session finished with the same score as the first two sessions, a 3-1 victory for the American side. But this morning at least featured a good bit of fight from the Europeans, which we did not see much of on Friday morning. The matches were see-saw affairs, bouncing around Whistling Straits with a bit more tension in the air and more of what you want from a Ryder Cup. Every match went to at least the 17th hole.
Unfortunately for Europe, the American talent kicked it into overdrive in the final hour of the session, an hour former European captain Paul McGinley called “critical” to his side having any chance over the remainder of the cup. What little hope of a weekend comeback rested with Padraig Harrington’s squad at the start of the day was extinguished in that final hour, as the final three matches swung to three full points for the American contingent. It’s another trouncing that has this feeling academic and only a matter of time before the USA gets to 14½ points on Sunday.
Man of the Morning
On the American side, we’ll go with Patrick Cantlay as the new blood in the Team USA lineup continues to deliver. The roster turnover could really signal a new era, though that hypothesis will truly need to be tested in European venues in the coming years. On Friday morning, we had Schauffele in this spot and he could have been the option again, but we’ll opt for his partner this round. Cantlay left the first tee on Saturday exuberantly trying to fire up the crowd, which is unexpected from the deadpan Californian. When he came back around the clubhouse, he fired them up again, but this time with his play, pouring one in on the ninth green that put the U.S. up for good in a match Europe felt like it had a fighting chance in throughout much of the front nine.
Cantlay and Schaufelle have not played together every match, but neither has lost through three sessions. You would think they are going all five for Captain Steve Stricker.
On the European side, the man of the morning is yet again Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard did it all for the second straight morning. He’s been the star for Europe once more—holing out from off the green, making putts he might not in any other setting, firing darts into greens he would in any other setting, blowing kisses to the crowd, shouting Vamos, and inserting himself into a ruling that did not involve his ball or shot. It was the full Sergio package, inlcuding another point on the pile for the all-time Ryder Cupper. More on that specific point but he just about sealed it up with this outrageous second shot into the par-5 16th.
For the second straight morning, we have to go with the leadoff match that resulted in another rousing Spanish win. Maybe it’s just because we’re feeling empathetic towards the Europe side, where points have been hard to come by for everyone except Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm. They were the only real bright spot for the Euros on the first day, but even that looked to be burning out on Saturday morning.
Up against the Florida State duo of Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka, who both rested on Friday afternoon, the Euros fell into a 3-down-through-three hole right out of the gate. Koepka-Berger did not appear to be a team that would provide much quarter for a comeback, but both hit shaky shots -- Berger on some approaches and par-3s, Koepka with a few wedges on the back nine -- to allow the Euros back into it. There was also that “Spanish magic” -- a phrase the home Sky broadcast was eager to cite -- that flipped the script in the leadoff.
The Euros won four holes in a seven-hole stretch, including two in a row at 12 and 13 to come all the way back from 3-down to 2-up. A chip-in from Sergio, the all-time points earner, at the 9th green really felt like the turning point from the dire straits of the opening.
The game escalated in drama on the back nine not exclusively because it was USA vs. Europe, but also USA vs. the referees. At the 15th hole, a wayward Berger tee shot left Koepka in a tuft of grass near bunker drainage for what he thought would be sure relief. Both American players were incredulous at two officials (one was called in for a second opinion) in a testy exchange that also included Sergio standing over the ball, milling about the gaggle, and at one point spitting his water out in laughter. It also involved Koepka telling both rules officials, “If I break my wrist, it's on ******* both of you.” More on that contentious moment here.
This was a much more competitive session across the board, with multiple close matches. But for the see-saw nature, and given the Sergio factor, we’ll anoint it Best Match of the session.
Even by the fickle nature of Ryder Cup match play where form and ranking can be quickly rendered meaningless, the second match of the day felt hopeless for the European team. Paul Casey looked awful throughout the first day, and whispers around the ground all week were that Tyrrell Hatton was struggling mightily to find the clubface. Whispers weren’t entirely accurate as he played admirably enough on Friday afternoon, but it was still a puzzling pairing to put out there given the desperate position Europe was in after two sessions.
That does not even account for the other side, and they drew the power pairing of Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, the same duo that looked nearly unbeatable in alternate shot on Friday. This match felt over when it came out on the tee sheet, and that’s how it looked once the balls were in the air. Casey was awful through the front nine, missing the green on both par-3s. Hatton hit a shank into an unplayable lie for an inexcusable bogey on the par-5 5th. The U.S. turned 4-up and it felt like the least in-doubt match of the session.
It’s hard to pin the majority of the blame on captain Padraig Harrington for Europe’s predicament -- his roster was not strong and they’ve not played well once here. But putting Hatton-Casey out there when you needed to make up a deficit almost felt like conceding a point.
Paul Casey has not had much to cheer about at this Ryder Cup, but this hole-out eagle at the 14th hole is the shot of the Cup so far and made DJ and Morikawa work for their point late in their match.
Only at the Ryder Cup
Michael Jordan on the first tee, before 7 a.m. local, cigar in hand, and a coffee cup full of … coffee?
Justin Thomas getting testy about having to putt one that he thought was inside the grip, which he demonstrated in much the same way he did at the Presidents Cup.
The crowd has been mostly well behaved, save for a few idiotic comments lobbed from the galleries. Jordan Spieth was commended by Sky for telling fans to pipe down at one point. Bernd Wiesberger, of all people, has been a target of some mild abuse, too, prompting one staredown moment.