U.S. captain Steve Stricker correctly predicted Europe would anchor stars Rahm and Rory McIlroy in either order in Friday morning's first and fourth pairings. He probably never dreamed McIlroy and Ryder Cup ace Ian Poulter would lose their first five holes and the match 5 and 3 to Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who made four consecutive birdies to end it.
"A shame because we actually played quite well," Poulter said. "Geez, yeah, they played great."
McIlroy partnered with 2019 British Open champ Shane Lowry in an afternoon 4-and-3 loss to Tony Finau and Harris English while Poulter didn't play. McIlroy was left out of Europe's Saturday morning matches.
They say personalities attract in alternate-shot partnership and differing golf games complement in good four-ball pairings. Former Florida State golfers Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger might have proved as much in their morning 2-and-1 victory over Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
"We have two different styles of games," Berger said. "I'm more methodical and he's more bomb-and-gouge. When you pair us together, we complement each other's games."
Call him a fan
A two-time major winner already, American Collin Morikawa also is a Ryder Cup rookie who hit his opening drive at the event's famed first tee left into a native area in the morning's second alternate-shot match.
"You know, to be honest I was more nervous at the Walker Cup, which is crazy," he said. "I've been able to play in a few big events so far in the last couple years, but I just loved it. It was so fun, every part of it. Obviously, I tugged it a little bit and wish I had hit the fairway. But shoot, it worked out."
From there, he and five-time Ryder Cupper Dustin Johnson made seven birdies on their way to a 3-and-2 victory over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland.
— Johnson celebrated an afternoon 11th-hole birdie putt and 3-up lead over Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger with a fist pump. Meanwhile, basketball Hall of Famer and Ryder Cup lover Michael Jordan answered him greenside with a raised fist. Golden State superstar Steph Curry attended Friday as well.
— Stricker forwarded messages to his players from Tiger Woods and former U.S. Ryder Cup captains Thursday night before Friday's messages began. "We knew he was fist-pumping from the couch," Schauffele said. "Whether he was on crutches or not, he's as fired up as anybody back at home."©2021 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.