Ryder Cup 2021: Tee Times, TV Schedule, Pairings and Predictions for Sunday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2021

Team USA's Tony Finau reacts after making a putt on the 16th hole during a four-ball match the Ryder Cup at the Whistling Straits Golf Course Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The European Ryder Cup squad will try to make up a six-point deficit against the United States with a front-loaded singles lineup Sunday.

Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia will be three of the first four European golfers on the course at Whistling Straits.

The United States put its stars in the middle of the 12-match lineup. Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Justin Thomas will hit the course in that order from Match 5 on.

Steve Stricker's American squad needs 3.5 points from the singles matches to secure the Ryder Cup. Europe needs nine points to retain the trophy and 9.5 to win in what would be the largest comeback in event history.

Each of the 12 singles matches is worth one point. Play at Whistling Straits will start at noon ET on NBC.


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Europe Gets Off to Fast Start Behind Veteran Players

Europe captain Padraig Harrington could not wait until the middle matches of singles play to put his best golfers on the course.

The strategy behind starting off with McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Rahm and Garcia is to attempt to set the tone for the afternoon. At minimum, the three Ryder Cup veterans and Lowry, who won a match Saturday afternoon, can stop a total domination by the United States.

Rahm and Garcia are the most likely winners of the quartet. They are the only European players with more than two points won in Wisconsin. The Spanish duo just have to continue to play steady golf Sunday to deal with their respective matches against Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau.

Scheffler and DeChambeau turned in solid performances as a pairing over the past two days, but they could be done in by a few erratic drives in matches where the margin of error will be slim.

In 2018, Rahm and Garcia won their singles matches 2 and 1, while DeChambeau lost the final match on course to Alex Noren.

The European wild card is McIlroy, who is 0-3 at Whistling Straits. If he turns around his form against Xander Schauffele, Europe can at least try to mount a comeback.

Lowry's match with FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay will be fascinating since it pits a major winner against one of the best players on the PGA Tour last season. If Lowry banks off the momentum from his Saturday afternoon win alongside Tyrrell Hatton, Europe can at least put a respectable number on the board.

Europe could be set up for a similar start to the one the United States had in 2018. The Americans took 2.5 points from the first three matches before the Europeans ran away with the middle matches.


Tony Finau Clinches Ryder Cup for United States

Three years ago, Europe secured the Ryder Cup in the eighth singles match.

Tony Finau sits in that position for the Americans on Sunday, as he goes up against Ian Poulter.

Finau was part of one of the most lopsided matches Friday, as he and Harris English beat Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry 4 and 3. Finau did not win his Saturday four-ball match alongside English, but they did push Lowry and Hatton to the 18th hole.

If Finau displays a steady hand and fends off the threat posed by Poulter, he could secure the clinching point or half-point Sunday.

Poulter, who has haunted the Americans in previous Ryder Cups, is 0-2 at Whistling Straits. He may not have the same magic at his disposal that led him to a 14-6-2 Ryder Cup record.

The United States should go on a run once Johnson and Morikawa get going. Both players are undefeated through two days of competition. If Johnson defeats Paul Casey and Morikawa takes down Viktor Hovland, the Americans will need 1.5 points to clinch.

If the United States gets at least a half-point from the opening matches, Finau could get the job done and render the final four matches on course irrelevant to the final score.