“There’s obviously still 20 points to play for. We’ve only just played for about 25 per cent at this stage. It isn’t a good start, but there’s still a lot to play for,” says Padraig Harrington as Europe trail the USA 6-2; Steve Stricker warns USA against complacency
Last Updated: 25/09/21 2:15am
Padraig Harrington believes Team Europe can still retain the Ryder Cup despite trailing the United States 6-2 following a “tough” opening day.
The visitors lost both of Friday’s sessions 3-1, but Harrington maintains there is still plenty to play for and is hopeful his team can start to build some momentum on Saturday.
The Irishman reckons his team have performed well without enjoying much luck, but he was encouraged to see Tyrrell Hatton, who birdied the 18th, and Jon Rahm, and Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland secure half points in their fourballs matches late on Friday afternoon.
“No doubt it was a tough day,” said the Team Europe captain. “Clearly not what you wanted, 6-2. There’s obviously still 20 points to play for. We have only just played for about 25 per cent at this stage. It isn’t a good start, but there’s still a lot to play for.
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Nick Dougherty looks back at the best of the action from the opening day of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin
“My team played well today. You know, just a few times, the momentum, the odd putt didn’t go in, and you need a bit of momentum.
“But hopefully, I just think the last couple of matches there, when it was really, really tight, the boys came through. Those two halves at the very end were crucial for us, Tyrrell with the birdie on the last, very, very important in those situations.
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“As much as we would have liked to have gotten wins on the board, we didn’t feel like we could afford to have lost those matches. Maybe a little bit of momentum swing there, and we feel good about that. And coming out tomorrow, obviously we need a big day.
“It seemed like our ball-striking was good. We just didn’t hole the putts today. You hole a few putts at the right time, you do create the momentum to move on.
“So it’s a sort of Catch 22. Obviously, the US played well and obviously, they holed the right putts at the right time and fair play to them. We are certainly not second-guessing the way they played. We would like to hole a few more putts ourselves tomorrow and create a little bit more good feeling and vibes for ourselves.”
Rory McIlroy suffered defeats in both his matches on Friday, but Harrington was still full of praise for the Northern Irishman’s leadership qualities, although he has omitted him from Saturday’s foursomes.
“He’s already a leader,” said Harrington. “You saw him out there after a tough day, he was out following those matches and supporting his team. He is very much a leader amongst his peers and I couldn’t have asked more from him during the year, I couldn’t have asked more from him today.
“Yeah, 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.”
The United States have not enjoyed such a big first-day lead since 1975, but captain Steve Stricker has warned his side against complacency and told them to make a fresh start on Saturday.
He said: “It’s a great start. We are very happy with the start. But my message to the guys before I left is tomorrow is a new day. You know, let’s just go out tomorrow and try to win that first session again in the morning and pretend today never happened, and let’s keep our foot down and continue to play the golf that we know we can play.
“Yeah, and that’s what we’re trying to do and not try to get complacent with anything. You know, we’ve had some things that came up and bit us in the rear in other Ryder Cups, so these guys know that, and they are focused on tomorrow and coming out strong again tomorrow.
“These guys realise what’s happened in the past and not to take anything for granted, and this was just the first day. You know, eight points, there’s still a lot of points to go, and they realise that.
“So it’s just putting your head down again and going to work and trying to get your point and trying to play the best you can straightaway tomorrow morning.”
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