Match 4 Breakdown: Cantlay & Schaufelle vs. McIlroy & Poulter
KOHLER, Wis. – With the opening matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup just hours away, we now know who will strike the first tee shots at Whistling Straits. Here’s a look at how the pairings stack up in Match 4, where the Americans will send out Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele to square off with the European duo of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.
How the U.S. will win: Meeting strength with strength, the Americans roll out a pair of rookies in name only. Cantlay and Schauffele may not have any Ryder Cup experience but they proved to be a potent combo two years ago in Australia and have only gotten better since. Cantlay is riding high off his $15 million payday, and perhaps more so than any other American duo these two seem genuinely excited at the prospect of playing together. Cantlay is the best all-around player on either team outside of Rahm, and Schauffele’s shot-making should be ideally suited for the Straits Course. Expect this to be a frequent pairing this week.
How Europe will win: What a play by Harrington, pinning his emotional leader with the all-time emotional leader of the Ryder Cup in the anchor match. The highlight reel from these two just over the last decade of matches might stretch an hour long, and it’s not that tough to envision how they could create a formidable pairing once again. Poulter will need to keep pace with the driver and hole more than his fair share of putts, as he usually does in this particular setting, while McIlroy’s excellence might be the most reliable single component to this match.
Key to the match: This could come down to whether the Postman can deliver. Poulter’s inclusion in this Ryder Cup was never in doubt, and Captain Harrington made a clear statement by putting him out in one of the marquee pairings of the opening session. If Poulter channels some of the emotional brilliance he displayed (alongside McIlroy) nine years ago at Medinah, the Americans could be in trouble. But he’ll also struggle to keep up with the other three participants off the tee, and in Foursomes he won’t be able to rely entirely on McIlroy. There won’t be much room for a slip-up from the Englishman, but he has delivered in Ryder Cups past with far less margin for error at his disposal.