Padraig Harrington has defended his parings after electing to bench Rory McIlroy for the second set of foursomes at the Ryder Cup.
For the first time in his Ryder Cup career, McIlroy lost both matches in a day – with Ian Poulter in the foursomes and Shane Lowry in the fourballs.
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McIlroy looked totally out of sorts, but it is still a big call by Harrington to rest the most talented player on his team.
Harrington also elected to rest Tommy Fleetwood, despite his excellent performance in grinding out a half alongside Viktor Hovland in the anchor match in the Friday fourballs.
“I’m very comfortable again with the team I’ve put out,” Harrington said.
Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team.
USA captain Steve Stricker has opted for consistency, with the quartet of pairings that won the foursomes session 3-1 on Friday going again on Saturday.
Saturday Foursomes pairings
- 13:05 – Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger vs Sergio Garcia and John Rahm
- 13:21 – Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa vs Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton
- 13:37 – Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas vs Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger
- 13:53 – Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele vs Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood
“We identified some groups that would be very good in foursomes and we feel really comfortable with them,” Stricker said. “They enjoy playing foursomes. They played great, so we won that session 3-1.
“In our mind, it’s like, you know what, let’s just send those four groups right back out there again.”
McIlroy was wayward off the tee, his irons lacked precision and he struggled on the greens. It was a rare poor day for the man from Northern Ireland, but Harrington has backed his talisman.
“The golf didn’t go as well as he would have liked, but I’m not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team,” Harrington said.
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