Rory McIlroy was especially happy with earning a point alongside Ryder Cup rookie Thomas Pieter as the European pair beat Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in Saturday morning foursomes. McIlroy and Pieters never trailed and won the opening match with relative ease 4&2.
Previously, McIlroy was 0-3 against Mickelson in Ryder Cup matches.
“I think personally and for the team, I think that was my fourth time up against Phil in the Ryder Cup and thankfully I was able to get one back on him,” said McIlroy. “He’s beaten me three times.
“It’s huge — to go out and lead Team Europe and get that first point on the board is massive. (European Captain) Darren (Clarke) put a lot of faith in us sending us out first in foursomes.”
And here comes the blatant jab against Mickelson, who criticized the 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hall Sutton for only giving him and Tiger Woods two days notice that they were playing foursomes together.
“We had not really practiced, had not chosen what golf ball to play, had not chosen what even tee to go off,” said McIlroy. “We flipped for it on the first tee. But it seemed to work out pretty well.”
Pretty sure at this point it’s clear that Rory making sure to mention that was no accident. McIlroy was pumped up already Friday evening when he saw he would have another shot against Mickelson.
“When I saw the draw last night, I was like, yes, I get to have a go at him again, because my record against him in the Ryder Cup isn’t what I would like it to be,” said McIlroy.
“But yeah, I may be wanted it a little bit more just for that reason but just to go out first and put a point on the board for Team Europe, that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to try and start the session off in the right vein.”
McIlroy is now 2-0 with the Ryder Cup rookie from Belgium. They first teamed up together in afternoon fourballs on Friday, defeating Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3&2. Both Europeans have credited their success to the similarity of their games. In other words, they both hit it really, really far.
“We’ve got very similar games and I think that helps,” said McIlroy.
Added Pieters: “We hit good shots together. If I hit a bad one, he comes back and has a brilliant one after that. It’s been like that for the last two days and it’s working nicely.”
The undefeated duo will face the long-hitting American pair of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka in Saturday afternoon fourballs. The U.S. has a narrow one-point lead over Europe at the moment after starting the first session Friday morning 4-0. I think it’s safe to say the Europeans have taken over the momentum to their favor.