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Ryder Cup Day 2 preview – Pairings and what Team U.S. needs to do

MONTESELLO, GIDONIA, Italy — It wasn’t until 2:01 p.m. local time that the United States took the lead for the first time in the 44th Ryder Cup. The novelty of standing under the Italian sun had worn off as spectators huddled in shady little pockets, past creaking beer cans and twisted plastic water bottles, while chants of “Ole, Ole, Ole” .

In the morning session, Europe dominated the foursomes 4-0 and got off to a fast start on the fourballs, with Justin Thomas eventually turning part of the scoreboard red. Thomas birdied the par-4 6th hole to temporarily halt the blue team’s attack, but the Americans failed to mount a decisive fightback in the afternoon and Europe won 6 ½ – 1 ½ on Friday. .

At the end of the day, Justin Rose and rookie Bob McIntyre salvaged a half-point from two holes down with two holes to play, meaning Team USA’s only win on day one in Rome. The contribution was three consecutive wins, tying the biggest lead in the game. Ryder Cup History. Europe will look forward to their big names in Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy, who impressed throughout the day.

“They are superstars,” Europe captain Luke Donald said. “They’re macho men. They’re three of the top four players in the world. You need your superstars firing on all cylinders. You need them playing well. Without that, it’s a really tough battle. They stepped up and did what they needed to do and I’m proud of them.”

Europe will enter Saturday with a 6.5 – 1.5 advantage, a score that even Donald could not have dreamed of when play began in the early hours of Friday morning. But Europe will be wary of a U.S. comeback, with 20 points still up for grabs.

America must start fast

The Americans looked confused at times on Friday morning as Europe nailed every pressure putt, chipping away at every corner from Marco Simeone and taking an incredible lead. In hindsight, the pairing introduced by Zach Johnson looked ill-judged, with rookie Sam Burns doing poorly with Scottie Scheffler in the lead. The two were close friends, but they never clicked with Lahm and Hovland, who seemed comfortable together from the start.

Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka brought back some of that fear factor in an afternoon where the rookies struggled, as did Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa. Wyndham Clark recognizes the need to work quickly on Saturday.

“We definitely needed a better day than today,” Clark said. “If we can dominate in the morning and afternoon, we need to turn it around and make it work in our favor. So, you know, at least we got some points, but we have a tough task ahead of us.” “

To do this, they team up with big shots. Justin Thomas and Justin Spieth teamed up again to start the game, Koepka and Scheffler reunited, and Max Homa and Brian Brian Harman is paired, Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay will serve as the main force.

remove rust

Clark’s comments that Europe will be “oil spilled” and “mentally fatigued” by Sunday appear to be ill-judged. Nine of the 12 teams in the U.S. field have not competed since the FedEx Cup in late August, and rather than the Europeans looking tired from their pre-Ryder Cup schedule, the U.S. team looks Rusty.

They couldn’t find the putt at all during the morning session, with their efforts sliding to the left, right, above and below the hole. They struggled to read the greens and the Europeans attacked hard.

So on Saturday, they need to be back on the radar, but others need to take a chance on becoming an American hero. Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele all struggled on Friday, while Koepka and Clark were more consistent. Scheffler’s putting woes looked to be correcting themselves, and Justin Thomas overcame two missed opportunities early on before putting some red balls on the board for the first time. These players have a chance to bring some joy on Saturday.

Jon Rahm needs an ice bath

Rahm hit Europe’s first tee shot of the day on Friday, and then nearly 11 hours later matched Nicolai Hojgaard for eagle and par on the final three holes , the Eagles, preventing Scheffler and Koepka from becoming No. 1 in the United States. Win the Cup.

He became a hero in Europe on day one and was inspired by the memory of the late Seve Ballesteros.

“I have to give Nikola props because here on the 18th, he gave me the basic freedom, he told me to putt, putt hard,” Rahm said. “He said, ‘What would Sevey do,’ right, ‘Do it for Sevey.’ I don’t know if he would have done that, but I’m glad it went in.”

His confidence also helped his partner, with Hoygaard paying tribute to “Rahmbo” afterwards. Rahm’s first-day highlights included a 63-foot chip-in for eagle on the 16th hole on Friday afternoon and then a 33-footer on the 18th to save a tie. He has a cult following in Marco Simone and follows in the footsteps of some Spanish greats in the game. He even drew criticism from Koepka, who was apparently annoyed by Rahm at some point on Friday.

“I mean, I want to hit the boards and pout like Jon Rahm,” Koepka said. “But, you know, that’s what it is. Act like kids. But we’re adults. We move on.”

So, wrap Lahm in cotton wool and throw him into an ice bath, Europe will need more of the same on Saturday.

Europe needs to continue to trust the process

Donald’s European team has placed a heavy emphasis on statistics for this year’s competition and has drawn on the expertise and sideline of Eduardo Molinari. They studied the algorithm and found that Europe performed better in foursomes than fourballs, so they changed the order on Friday and were richly rewarded. They also look to statistics for assistance in selecting pairings.

The all-Scandinavian combination of Hovland and rookie Ludwig Aberg should thrive again on Saturday. They found common ground in the preparation for the game and established a new language as they walked around the court on Friday.

“So he spoke Norwegian; I spoke Swedish,” Aberg later said. “It’s very similar. I actually have two Norwegian roommates living with me, so I’m used to the Norwegian language. But yeah, it’s a comfort.”

So whatever statistics and reasoning they use, it’s valid. Team Europe knows they have to get off to a good start on Saturday because after a humiliating day, Team USA will throw anything at them.

“Obviously Team USA is strong and will be strong tomorrow,” Rose said. “There is no complacency here.

“We’re going to be fighting for that narrow advantage there. I thought the European team did a really good job today fighting for that narrow advantage in the last few holes and that’s the difference on a day like today.

“Motivation is huge. Momentum can be everything. It’s going to happen in waves and we’re definitely going to sleep here and there over the next few days. But as long as we stay focused and stay on track, then hopefully the team can keep performing .”

Matt Fitzpatrick must also be mentioned. Entering this year, he had lost all five Ryder Cup matches he had played. But Donald found he had never played a four-ball match and felt he was a perfect fit to play alongside McIlroy. The process paid off again, as Fitzpatrick had five birdies in his first six holes Friday afternoon.

Pairing the next morning

  • Tommy Fleetwood & Rory McIlroy vs. Justin Thomas & Jordan Spieth

  • Ludwig Aberg & Viktor Hovland vs. Scotty Scheffler & Brooks Koepka

  • Sean Lowry & Sepp Straka VS Max Homa & Brian Harmon

  • Jon Rahm & Tyrell Hatton vs. Xander Schauffele & Patrick Cantlay

Players to watch

Brooks Koepka: He was clearly ready for Friday’s game but was hurt after seeing a potential victory snatched away by Lahm’s talent, so he’s expected to start Saturday at 100 mph.

Tommy Fleetwood: He only played in Friday morning’s game, but he is filling the void left by Ian Poulter, becoming a crowd favorite and someone who can turn a game around. On Saturday, he joined McIlroy in a blockbuster matchup against Thomas and Spieth.

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