Blundering Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter succumb to dismal defeat - then claim they played 'quite well'
The clumsy Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter succumb to a dismal defeat - and then claim they played "pretty well" - REUTERS
Throwing Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter back together always looked like an act of nostalgia, a desperate attempt by Padraig Harrington, the couple who detonated the miracle of Medinah, to coax more magic. And yet this was an experiment that was a thing of the past, as the two delivered a dark performance that mixed ragged play with dark body language, on the way to a 5 & 3 thrashing by Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
It is clear that McIlroy is not a morning person. This is the person who got a weird oversized watch from his teammates nine years ago after they slept through his call on Sunday morning. But even by his standards, his early failures at Poulter's side here on Whistling Straits were unforgivably sleepy.
From the opening fairway, he missed his chip horribly, leaving Poulter 30 feet off the pin as the Americans sniffed the first of five straight holes. Trish Johnson, who co-commentated on BBC Radio Five Live, couldn't keep the voice of horror in her head. "That was b --- awful," she blurted out, apparently without realizing that she was live.
It was far from the only mistake by McIlroy, unable to find accuracy with his irons or his putting, as Europe's last four-man match went into a tailspin. They lost their fifth hole in a row when Cantlay emptied a 30-foot hole and could easily have dropped six after Schauffele let off his 12-foot putt for birdie. The more they stumbled, the more barracked Poulter's huge galleries under the pristine Wisconsin sun.
Worryingly, this once fatal duo seemed to be denying their own shortcomings. According to Poulter, “we actually played pretty well,” while McIlroy said, “I don't know if anyone could have beaten Xander and Patrick today.” A pairing that didn't make the top nine in 39 could have been a start.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay dominated from the start - GETTY IMAGES
While McIlroy's wife, Erica, who followed closely behind, looked dejected, basketball superstar Steph Curry, Team USA's unofficial cheerleader, was a stunner. This had always been a daunting question for McIlroy and Poulter, even if their exploits in Medinah had taken the memorable 2012 competition to the extreme.
Cantlay has just won more than £ 10m for his FedEx Cup title after playing the BMW Championship with an astonishing 27 under par last month, while Schauffele has an Olympic gold medal for his summer.
Close friends off the track, the two Californians set off in such a way that their wrinkled opponents had no answer and finally succumbed in 15th place. Cantlay, for his part, hid his joy at having overcome such a marquee pairing.
"We were excited to see this pairing - all the pressure is on them," he said. "They saw it all and are expected to have a little veteran advantage," he said. As it turned out, McIlroy and Poulter were the most blunt instruments.
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Northern Irish Golfer (1989-)
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