Saturday Ryder Cup pairings: Instant reaction and analysis
The United States takes a 5-3 lead into Day 2 of the Ryder Cup. Europe looks to atone for its Friday washout when the foursomes resume Saturday morning.
Dustin Johnson, the highest ranked U.S. player, split two matches Friday but is sitting out the foursomes Saturday morning along with his partner, Matt Kuchar. Ryan Moore and J.B. Holmes are also on the sidelines.
Trusted veterans Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, who both struggled Friday, will sit for Europe, along with Andy Sullivan and Masters champion Danny Willett.
Match 1, 7:35 a.m. CT, Phil Mickelson / Rickie Fowler (USA) v. Rory McIlroy / Thomas Pieters (EUR)
Breakdown: U.S. captain Davis Love III shuffled his lineup to send Mickelson and Fowler out first. The frequent practice round companions on the PGA Tour will try to recapture Friday’s magic when they rallied from two down with four to play to defeat Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan 1-up. It was Fowler’s first Ryder Cup victory in nine tries. European captain Darren Clarke sends powerful rookie Thomas Pieters out with McIlroy, who ended Friday’s action with an eagle and a bow. As always, the first match can set the trend for the entire session. Mickelson needs to hit more fairways than he did Friday if the U.S. hopes to maintain its momentum.
Match 2, 7:50 a.m. CT, Brandt Snedeker / Brooks Koepka (USA) v. Henrik Stenson / Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Breakdown: The only U.S. team to win a point in Friday’s fourballs remains together in foursomes. Koepka’s driving and poise were impressive in his first Ryder Cup match. Snedeker rolled in critical putts time and again to improve his overall record to 2-2-0. Clarke broke up a formidable team of Stenson and Justin Rose because 22-year-old rookie Matt Fitzpatrick needed to play his first career match. Stenson’s iron play was impeccable Friday afternoon. Fitzpatrick is a solid ballstriker (10th on the European Tour in greens in regulation) with two career victories.
Match 3, 8:05 a.m. CT, Jimmy Walker / Zach Johnson (USA) v. Justin Rose / Chris Wood (EUR)
Breakdown: Walker and Johnson finished with a flourish, winning the last five holes to storm to a 4 & 2 foursomes victory over Garcia and Kaymer. They are close friends who have the ideal amount of healthy flippancy to form a perfect pairing in the alternate-shot format. A bad shot doesn’t upset either partner. Rose, who has a 4-2-1 career record in foursomes, takes rookie and countryman Chris Wood under his wing. Rose hit the ball well in both sessions Friday but his putter heated up in the afternoon. Wood won the BMW PGA Championship earlier this year but his ballstriking is suspect. He’s 171st in driving accuracy on the European Tour and 103rd in greens in regulation.
Match 4, 8:20 a.m. CT, Patrick Reed / Jordan Spieth (USA) v. Sergio Garcia /Rafa Cabrera-Bello (EUR)
Breakdown: Reed and Spieth each picked up their first career foursomes point Saturday morning, playing solid golf tee-to-green and holing clutch putts. Described as “peanut butter and jelly” by U.S. vice-captain Steve Stricker, the two young Texans share an intense competitive spirit, a love of this format and have emerged as America’s most reliable tandem. It doesn’t seem to matter who Garcia pairs with in the Ryder Cup. His teams just win. He and Cabrera-Bello, a rookie, earned a point for Europe on Friday afternoon. Garcia has a 9-3-2 career record in foursomes and is seeking his 20th career match victory.