Particularly fascinating to the spectators was Bridgestone-bashing Bryson DeChambeau, who could seed the clouds with his stratospheric drives. On the 581-yard, par-five fifth hole, a dogleg right over water, he lined up his tee shot over the fans standing to the right of the tee box. Everyone else was hitting left toward the fairway.
"I just aimed at the green and bombs away," DeChambeau said.
This time, his high-risk, high-reward strategy paid off. He ripped a 417-yard drive that left him 72 yards from the hole, whereas Scheffler, after a respectable drive to the left, still had 274 yards remaining. DeChambeau eagled the hole.
In the end, all that power didn't make enough of a difference. DeChambeau and Scheffler were 1-up down the stretch but wound up halving the match when Tyrrell Hatton — paired with world No. 1 Jon Rahm — made a seven-foot birdie putt on 18.
It was a miserable day for one of the most seasoned Ryder Cup veterans. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, playing in the tournament for the sixth time, lost alongside Ian Poulter in the morning and Shane Lowry in the afternoon. Neither match was close.
Said McIlroy, who lost to Cantlay and Schauffele, then Finau and English: "When you have got a couple of pairs like that on form, on a difficult golf course where it's sort of hard to make birdies and they go on runs, if you're not quite a hundred percent on top of your game, it's tough."
Padraig Harrington, captain of Team Europe, said he was pleased by the ball striking but disappointed in the putting.
"Obviously the U.S. played well and obviously they holed the right putts at the right time and fair play to them," Harrington said. "We're certainly not second-guessing the way they played. We would like to hole a few more putts ourselves [Saturday] and create a little bit more good feeling and vibes for ourselves."
McIlroy will not play in the four-ball Saturday morning. The matchups are Brooks Koepka and Berger against Sergio Garcia and Rahm, Johnson and Morikawa vs. Paul Casey and Hatton, Jordan Spieth and Thomas — the only U.S. pairing to lose Friday — vs. Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger, and Cantlay and Schauffele vs. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
By sundown Friday, the rain was coming down in sheets. For a day, at least, the Americans were truly men for all seasons.©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.