SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin – The 13th tee box Friday afternoon for four balls – after Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton hit their tee shots – Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau huddled in for a chat. Shortly after they were done, Bryson rummaged through his bag, pulled out his driver and turned to the crowd as he lifted him above his head like a triumphant medieval lieutenant returning from the battlefield with his sword. lifted towards the city.
The gallery, of course, roared its approval. DeChambeau tried to drive the par 4 of 394 yards.
Golf’s greatest exhibitionist had finally found a perfect event for his skills and temperament. The United States divided this hole with 4 against Rahm and Hatton; then, the American pair then halved the game overall. This helped the hosts take a 6-2 lead on Saturday, the United States’ biggest lead on Day 1 since the Ryder Cup expanded with the rest of Europe joining Great Britain and the Ireland in 1979.
It is not finished. We all saw what happened in 2012. But it’s as close to the end as one might reasonably expect after day one, and DeChambeau’s absurd traveling show was representative of a American team whose players each seemed to settle into their own specific roles as they owned the first eight games of this event.
Here are nine takeaways from Friday’s eight games. You can also check out a full breakdown of the Ryder Cup scores for Day 1.
1. DeChambeau’s pilot is the biggest weapon of the event: This shouldn’t be surprising. The four ball is the perfect format for him, and the # 13 is a good example. Scheffler was able to hit first and get something down the fairway, which more or less guaranteed a par. This freed DeChambeau until absolutely to eat. It wasn’t the only time this had happened on Friday. On the 5th par 5, he hit a 417-yard drive with 72 yards to eagle. With someone to cover up the big duds, there’s no fear of holding back, meaning those he hits on the screws are winning records. It is a problem for Europe.
This event lacked real juice early Friday morning. The first tee was flat and the normal Ryder Cup buzz was nowhere to be found. He found his place in the afternoon, however, and DeChambeau played a big part in creating momentum that should continue into the weekend.
It was also nice to see DeChambeau kissing the day. After a summer filled with vitriol and angst from all corners of the golf world, it was really nice to see him thrive in an environment that he clearly loves. That doesn’t abdicate the rest of his nonsense, but it was certainly fun on Friday afternoon. It’s also not surprising that someone filming themselves hitting drivers in a cage in their living room and putting the videos on TikTok fully blossoms into an event where fans lather up and put on a show for them. is half of the reason this thing is even played.
2. Big Tone is high time: Speaking of shows, how about Finau dropping five birdies in just 15 holes and (alongside Harris English) torching Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy’s Ireland-Northern Ireland duo? Finau gets criticism for a lot of different things (some deserved), but he’s been the man so far at this event. After setting a record winning Paris in 2018 and christening Tommy Fleetwood in Sunday singles, he was out early Friday morning as he sat down to whip the first crowd of tees into a frenzy. He seems (perhaps unexpectedly?) To really like a scene that clearly elevates an already ridiculous game. I can’t get enough of him.
3. Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa are perfect: We thought the DJ game and Morikawa’s game might fit together well, and they were almost perfect in a 3, 2, 4 victory over Viktor Hovland and Paul Casey. They had seven (!) Birdies in 16 holes and scored the first American point on the board. At first glance, it’s an unlikely duo. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ve got two guys who are elite course managers and both go about their own business with little to no drama on the course. I couldn’t be more in favor of pushing them back as far as possible.
4. Spain is scary: One of European captain Padraig Harrington’s rare mistakes was to break Spain’s Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia duo after making six birdies over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the morning session. It ended up being the only game Europe won all day. Rahm played with Hatton in the afternoon, while Sergio – the all-time points-won European Ryder Cup leader, who played beautifully in the lead – sat. It was unexpected (Garcia had played 41 of 44 games before this week), and it became unthinkable after the way he played Friday morning. Big miss for Europe.
5. Closing time: There isn’t much in golf more emphatic than a JT fence kick. After he and Patrick Cantlay dropped three holes in Europe in the afternoon, he birdied a resounding No.9 to get closer to two and rose 282 yards on No.16 for that the eagle ties him up. He birdied two runs on numbers 17 and 18, but missed both. Still, stealing half a point behind when the US was trailing on holes # 4-15 was huge.
6. This photo: The shot of the day (week? Year?) Came in a losing effort from Spieth on the 17th hole in his morning session with Thomas against Rahm and Garcia. Facing a massive embankment with the game pretty much over, he hit a miraculous 6-foot tilted shot, and his momentum nearly carried him into Lake Michigan. If anything, the shot was even better than it looked on TV. Spieth had come out after the DeChambeau-Scheffler duo in the afternoon, and the way he explained it, he had to start leaning before hitting the ball just to make proper contact. Truly one of the most amazing moves he (or anyone) has ever pulled off.
7. Steph and Phil: The Ryder Cups are nonsense. Total chaos combined with larger-than-life characters creates the most bizarre and ridiculous scenes you can imagine. At one point in the DeChambeau-Scheffler game against Rahm-Hatton on Friday afternoon, Steph Curry and Mickelson were DeChambeau records and Mickelson was telling a fan who asked for advice on playing Kiawah Island next month, “This n it’s not that difficult. ” All of this as the United States started to move closer to a possible 7-1 lead on Saturday. Mickelson was laying out scenarios, Curry was really involved in the action (except when Ben Crenshaw took a pic with him), and oh, there’s Michael Jordan and Ahmad Rashad smoking cigars, drinking wine and watching Johnson win his second match of the day. Like I said, absurd.
Rick Gehman and Greg DuCharme break down and react to the action of the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple podcasts and Spotify.
8. Rory is seated: For the first time in his career, McIlroy lost two Ryder Cup matches on the same day. As a result, for the first time in his career, McIlroy will miss a session. After playing 26 straight games to start his career, Harrington won’t send him to the Saturday morning foursomes. McIlroy hasn’t been as energetic as he was in 2016, when he owned most of the early days, and his golf clearly isn’t where he’s used to. It’s a big problem for a European team that had to rely on its stars.
9. Path to victory? Could Europe still win this event? Absoutely. If 2012 in Medina where the USA led 10-6 on Saturday evening taught us anything, it is that no figure is insurmountable for the Europeans. The flip side for the Americans is that no lead is too big to be thrown away. But what is the way forward for Europe? How do they go from two points to 14 points in two days?
With McIlroy seated, Europe has an elite duo on Saturday morning at Rahm and Garcia and a lot ofâ¦ question marks. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick step down. Rookies Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger will leave. Casey and Hatton are together. I keep looking at pairs, and all I see is three more points for the Americans. At this point, that would be really over (and it probably is anyway).
At the root of Friday’s rout, this United States seems to actually embrace (and maybe even love) this event, this scene, this crowd, and (maybe?) Even each other. It hasn’t always been the case over the past 20 years, but a generational turnover from yesteryear superstars to six rookies who will dominate the PGA Tour over the next decade is helpful.
That doesn’t guarantee the Ryder Cup will return to the United States on Sunday night, but it certainly puts Americans on the brink of that reality.
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