Tyrrell Hatton earned a crucial half point for Europe at the 43rd Ryder Cup with a birdie at the 18th and he hopes that can provide Padraig Harrington’s team with some momentum going into Saturday morning’s foursomes, despite trailing 6-2 after the opening day.
Hatton rolled in a seven-footer at the last following a brilliant approach shot as he and Jon Rahm shared the spoils with USA duo Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler in Friday afternoon’s fourballs at Whistling Straits.
“A very special moment,” said Hatton. “Obviously standing over that, I know it’s a massive putt and it’s going to help the team. I didn’t hole any putts today. I just had to trust that one, and hit it left lip and made sure I hit a good putt.
“Thankfully I managed to do that. It went in and was just an amazing feeling. Obviously you could see the emotion there at the end. It was huge for the team, and hopefully that turns the momentum our way now.”
On playing alongside world No 1 Rahm, he added: “It’s a partnership that I was obviously very pleased about. We get on well and I think we enjoyed it out there.”
Rahm added: “It was a back-and-forth match, and quite an unusual one, when you have Bryson do things like what he did on five, you know you’re going to have a couple holes where a halve is going to be a very good score just because of the tee shots he can hit.
“I’m glad Tyrrell was able to play 18 the way he did. That is a world-class hole, to hit that driver and the five-iron and the putt to follow it up. Glad we could get that halve. Almost feels like a win and now hoping we end strong as a team.”
Rahm was referring to DeChambeau’s eagle at the fifth where he smashed a 417-yard tee shot and it was an emotional day for the big-hitting American.
He said: “Felt good going out there today, almost too good where it was a little loose. I got a little more into my comfort zone after five and made eagle after that. I didn’t want to make par, because if I did, I would be walking home.
“I’m glad I got something for the team. Frustrating, but we fought hard. They are an amazing team, the Europeans, and Jon Rahm and Tyrrell were great competitors. It was a hard-fought fight to the end, and we definitely had the upper hand. We had a lot more opportunities to do things, and just didn’t take advantage of those.
Live Ryder Cup Golf
September 25, 2021, 1:00pm
“Proud of the team. Super proud. They fought hard every single shot out there, from what I saw, and, again, looking back on it, this is a great start, but the job’s not over. We have two more days. A lot more golf. And we cannot lose our mindset to win.”
Scheffler added: “Overall pleased with how we played. I think we played really solid. Few mistakes here and there, but other than that a really solid day.”
Fleetwood: An amazing match
Europe’s other half point in the fourballs, which they lost 3-1, came from Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland against Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay, although they were three up after eight holes before Thomas inspired a comeback.
Fleetwood said: “It was an amazing match. At one point we had the upper hand and I had a couple of good chances to put us further ahead at the start of the back nine, but I mean, Viktor played great. I was really happy with how I played, the way those guys hit the ball, the way we all hit the ball really down the stretch.
“Once you turn into the wind on those last few holes, it was a really cool match to be a part of. Of course you always want to get the most out of it you can. We would have loved a win. I had such a beautiful time with Viktor out on the golf course and it was just a really good match.”
Hovland added: “It was special being on the team with him, and we had great chemistry all day. Obviously riding the big high early in the round and we had a few bad holes early on the back nine, but we really just trusted each other.
“When I was in trouble, Tommy made a couple clutch par saves, and when he was in trouble, I was able to step up. We really meshed up well today, and it was awesome being paired up with him.”
A fired-up Thomas said: “I’ve lost a bit of my voice. I was yelling a little bit. That’s what this event is all about. I mean, to have the opportunity to go out and battle like that with Patrick, and for me to be able to pull one for him, making putts, and vice versa. It was fun for us to go out and get a halve out there.”
Cantlay added: “JT carried me around all day today and he played great, and it was a dogfight. I thought 3-1 and 3-1 in the two sessions, that’s a great start. Hopefully we can keep the pedal down and keep doing more of the same.”
It’s tough, admits McIlroy
Rory McIlroy lost two matches on the same day at the Ryder Cup for the first time as he and Shane Lowry went down 4&3 to Tony Finau and Harris English in the fourballs, with McIlroy admitting he could do little about it.
He said: “They feed off the momentum of the crowd obviously and the last two sessions – Xander, Patrick, played wonderful, and I haven’t seen Tony putt as good as that in a long time.
“When you have got a couple of pairs like that on form, on a difficult golf course where it’s sort of hard to make birdies and they go on runs, if you’re not quite a hundred per cent on top of your game, it’s tough.”
Lowry, playing in his first Ryder Cup match, added: “We got unlucky today. We probably didn’t play our best but we hit some good shots and got bad breaks. We probably should have given them a better match than we did but it is what it is.”
Finau certainly enjoyed himself as he made eight threes, but he also paid tribute to rookie English.
“Oh, man, you’ve just got to enjoy it,” he said. “All these people out here cheering us on, that’s the biggest thing. You have to enjoy it. I learned that in Paris, and the more you can just have fun with it, seems to keep you loose, and you know, I was able to roll the rock nicely today.
“But I had a great partner in Harris. We picked each other up, and we were in play all day, so we put a lot of pressure on them to make birdies in these tough conditions, and it’s just really fun to play alongside this guy and win a point.”
English said: “This is unlike anything I’ve ever played in. The team atmosphere has been awesome. We had a great week of prep, hanging out in the team room and hanging out with all these guys, it’s fun to get to know them a lot more off the golf course. We had a great time today.
“Tony putted unbelievably. It’s hard to putt out here with the wind gusting like it was. We had a great time and the fans were incredible.”
GolfPass is now available on Sky Q
GolfPass is now available on Sky Q with an exclusive offer for Sky VIP customers. Click here to find out more…
DJ and Xander complete good day
Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele teamed up to notch their second points of the day by defeating Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger 2&1 in the opening fourball.
Johnson said: “The wind blew all day start to finish and [it was] very difficult. Not just getting your shots close to the hole but you’re playing wind on the putts. Playing in the wind, it’s hard to judge.
“But we both played really good and we ham-and-egged it really well and if one of us was out of the hole the other was in it and had a good look. That’s why we have a team-mate, and we played nicely and had a great match.”
Schauffele added: “It was fun. We got all the seasons out there. It’s always a nice thing being on DJ’s team when he’s free-rolling. I’ve seen it before playing against him, and it’s not as fun. Nice to be on his side when it’s happening.”
Who will win the 43rd Ryder Cup? Watch throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports’ dedicated Ryder Cup channel.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland