Ryder Cup: 'Tough day' for Europe but Harrington upbeat after Friday's finish

By Sports Desk September 24, 2021

Europe captain Padraig Harrington lamented a difficult start against the United States but remains upbeat, buoyed by the defending Ryder Cup champions managing to halve the final two matches on the first day.

Team Europe face an uphill battle trying to retain their crown at Whistling Straits, where hosts USA hold a commanding 6-2 advantage – the biggest opening-day lead at the Ryder Cup since 1975.

Europe struggled for answers as Team USA starred in the morning foursomes and afternoon four-balls, with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy losing both his matches and subsequently dropped for Saturday's foursomes.

While the start of Europe's defence did not go according to plan, Harrington highlighted the importance of Jon Rahm-Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland-Tommy Fleetwood halving their respective matchups against Scottie Scheffler-Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas-Patrick Cantlay late in the day.

"No doubt it was a tough day," Harrington told reporters. "Clearly not what you wanted, 6-2. There's obviously still 20 points to play for. We've only just played for about 25 per cent at this stage. It isn't a good start, but there's still a lot to play for.

"My team played well today. You know, just a few times, the momentum, the odd putt didn't go in, and you need a bit of momentum. Things didn't go against us.

"But hopefully, I just think the last couple of matches there, when it was really, really tight, the boys came through, and it certainly felt like we couldn't have afforded -- those two halves at the very end were crucial for us, Tyrrell with the birdie on the last, very, very important in those situations.

"As much as we would have liked to have gotten wins on the board, we couldn't afford -- we didn't feel like we could afford to have lost those matches. Maybe a little bit of momentum swing there, and we feel good about that. And coming out tomorrow, obviously we need a big day."

Harrington added: "We just didn't hole the putts today. You know, you hole a few putts at the right time, you do create the momentum to move on.

"So it's a sort of Catch 22. Obviously the US played well and obviously they holed the right putts at the right time and fair play to them. We're certainly not second-guessing the way they played. We would like to hole a few more putts ourselves tomorrow and create a little bit more good feeling and vibes for ourselves."

"You can't just turn around and try to eat into a lead straightaway in one session," he continued. "It would be lovely if it happened, but you can't think like that. You've got to do it slowly, one step at a time.

"We've got 20 points to play for, and we've got to prepare ourselves for, hopefully for us at this stage [it is] a long battle all the way through. If we are going to get this done, it's going to be a very tight one."

American counterpart and USA skipper Steve Stricker added: "It's a great start. We are very happy with the start. But my message to the guys before I left is tomorrow is a new day. You know, let's just go out tomorrow and try to win that first session again in the morning and pretend today never happened, and let's keep our foot down and continue to play the golf that we know we can play.

"That's what we're trying to do and not try to get complacent with anything. You know, we've had some things that came up and bit us in the rear in other Ryder Cups, so these guys know that, and they are focused on tomorrow and coming out strong again tomorrow."

Related items

  • Winther overcomes bathroom drama to hold firm at Mallorca Open Winther overcomes bathroom drama to hold firm at Mallorca Open

    Mallorca Open champion Jeff Winther revealed he very nearly missed his tee time on Sunday, though he did not let a bathroom fiasco prevent him from claiming a maiden European Tour title.

    Overnight leader Winther carded a closing 70 to remain on 15 under-par, keeping him one shot in front of Spanish duo Pep Angles and Jorge Campillo, and Swede Sebastian Soderberg.

    The 30-year-old carded two 62s over the tournament, and just did enough on his final round.

    However, he was almost caught out by a bathroom-related drama, and had to rely on his young daughter to get him out of a tricky situation.

    "After breakfast I went to have a shower and my wife came in to use the bathroom as well," he said. "The door closed, and there's no lock, but we locked ourselves in. There's no lock on the door but the handle didn't work.

    "Our little girl Nora, six years old, had to go and find guys at reception to break down the door. We were in there for 45 minutes, I think. I thought, 'jeez not today, not Sunday, you're leading the freaking event. Might not get there for your tee time'. What a morning!

    "It's not sinking in. I couldn't have a better week. I said at the start of the week that this was going to be like a holiday and apparently holidays work out for me."

    While Winther celebrated his first victory on the Tour, Soderberg finished in second place for the second week running. 

    Soderberg's 68 wedged him between the scores of Angles (67) and Campillo (69), with the trio sharing second place on 14 under.

    The lowest score of the day was achieved by Laurie Canter, who went round in 64 to finish at 12 under alongside Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez. The Englishman has finished in the top five in three of his last four events.

  • Matsuyama wins first title since Masters on home soil at Zozo Championship Matsuyama wins first title since Masters on home soil at Zozo Championship

    Hideki Matsuyama won his first PGA Tour title since his Masters triumph in April as he stormed to victory at the Zozo Championship on home soil.

    The Japanese star claimed the seventh win of his career with a brilliant 65 on the final day, gaining four strokes on the back nine.

    Matsuyama had gone into Sunday's action with only a one-shot lead over Cameron Triangle but ended up comfortably triumphing by five shots with a score of 15 under, eagles on the sixth and 18th helping him to glory.

    The 29-year-old had lost a play-off at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August but this triumph ensures the Masters will not be his sole success of 2021.

    An impressive 66 from Brendan Steele saw him join fellow American Triangle on 10 under to finish the tournament in a tie for second place in Chiba, Japan.

    There was another big gap below that pair, with Mackenzie Hughes, Sebastian Munoz and Matt Wallace finishing four further back on six under in a share of fourth position.

    Reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood were among a group of eight players to finish in a tie for seventh place on five under.

  • Masters champion Matsuyama retains Zozo Championship lead Masters champion Matsuyama retains Zozo Championship lead

    Hideki Matsuyama will head into Sunday with a slender one-shot lead in the Zozo Championship on home soil.

    The 2021 Masters champion carded a 68 to remain a stroke clear of Cameron Tringale on 10 under in Chiba, Japan.

    Matsuyama had looked set for a more comfortable night's sleep on Saturday, but a bogey six at the last coupled with a birdie on the same hole for Tringale cut his advantage.

    Sebastian Munoz, Brendan Steele and Matt Wallace all sit on six under par, with Branden Grace and Tommy Fleetwood on the fringes of contention a shot further back.

    Reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa's third-round 67 put him within six of the leader.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.