41st Ryder Cup: Final-day fireworks a given
CHASKA, Minn. — Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy have offered many of the lasting images of the 41st Ryder Cup this week in the Minneapolis suburbs. The two fiery, emotional players are buoyed by their play — and a large, boisterous crowd.
But as Reed, the American, and McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, attacked the pins at Hazeltine National Golf Club, they have been doing so apart from each other.
McIlroy teamed with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters to pull three points from the United States, playing Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and others. Reed and fellow Texan Jordan Spieth have been caught in some back-and-forth affairs with England’s Justin Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
Any thunderous screams from Reed and McIlroy today will come on the same hole.
Reed and McIlroy will lead off the singles matches on the final day of competition. Reed and the U.S. hold a 9½-6½ lead in trying to win for the first time in four Ryder Cups.
“I told Ian Poulter back in 2012 that he was built for the Ryder Cup, and I think Patrick Reed is built for the Ryder Cup, too,” American captain Davis Love III said. “He’s got that attitude. Obviously that’s going to be a fun match to watch in two of the best players in the game going at it. But you just go down the list, there’s great match after great match after great match.”
Repeated yells from Reed and McIlroy reverberated often on Saturday.
Reed has drawn strength from the home American crowd, the anti-European sentiment fueling McIlroy’s determination.
An eagle by Reed on the sixth hole in the afternoon helped Reed and Spieth earn a 2-and-1 victory against Rose and Stenson. Reed birdied six holes in the round to go with his eagle, and he was minus-5 in a span of four holes as he took control of the match.
Of course, after the ball rolled in for eagle, Reed celebrated emphatically. He screamed “Come on” while pumping his fists and giving Spieth a hard high-five. Reed followed with the same for their two caddies.
“Before it reached its apex, we were both screaming,” Spieth said. “That’s how cool it was. I screamed, ‘Let’s go Patrick,’ and I don’t know what he screamed at that point. He did his signature whatever it was that he’s been doing, the let’s go first pump.”
The huge galleries have been a topic this week. The enthusiastic crowd has supported the Americans with huge cheers that have drenched the Hazeltine grounds in exclamation. But some of the fans have taken to cheering for European misses and have drawn the ire of McIlroy in particular.
McIlroy’s response has been to make big shots and drain putts before turning and letting the crowd know he continued to add points to the European total.
“That’s the plan, yeah, just try to get them fired up and that gets us fired up,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, you’ve got to keep your concentration out there. It’s tough at times but just glad we got it done today.”
McIlroy’s fist-pumping and yelling have happened all over the course and also have been punctuated by his teammate Thomas Pieters, the Belgian playing in his first Ryder Cup.
McIlroy and Pieters were first paired Friday afternoon and earned a point with a 3-and-2 victory. They led off Saturday with a 4-and-2 win against Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson in foursomes, the alternate-ball format. McIlroy and Pieters then defeated Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka 3-and-1 in the first four-ball match.
“It’s pretty cool to have three points with Rory,” Pieters said. “I think we’ll have this team for a while longer.”
J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore won 1 up when Lee Westwood of England, teamed with Masters champion Danny Willett, missed a short par putt on the 18th hole.
Westwood, a pick of captain Darren Clarke had sat out Friday afternoon and Saturday morning after telling Clarke he needed to work on his game. Westwood had three birdies in five holes in the middle of the round but struggled at the end.
The other U.S. victory in the afternoon came when Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar led from the third hole on to beat Martin Kaymer of Germany and Sergio Garcia of Spain, 2-and-1.
The Americans, who led 5-3 lead after the first day, saw their lead shrink to 6½-5½ when Europe won two matches and halved another in Saturday morning foursomes.
The United States has been in a similar position to end Europe’s Ryder Cup dominance. In 2012, the Americans led 10-6 heading into Sunday’s matches before Europe came back to win 14½-13½ at Medinah Country Club in Illinois.