Harrington benches McIlroy after first two-loss Ryder Cup day

Kohler (United States) (AFP) –


Europe captain Padraig Harrington has benched Rory McIlroy from Saturday's morning foursomes matches after the first two-loss day of the four-time major winner's Ryder Cup career.

McIlroy, a member of four European winning teams, struggled when paired with England's Ian Poulter in a 5&3 foursomes loss Friday to Americans Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

In afternoon four-balls, McIlroy and Ireland's Shane Lowry fell 4&3 to Americans Tony Finau and Harris English.

The Americans seized a 6-2 lead after the opening day of the biennial team golf showdown at Whistling Straits, the largest day-one US edge since 1975.

Asked about McIlroy before the pairings were released Friday, Harrington praised the Northern Ireland star.

"He's already a leader," Harrington said. "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.

"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."

Harrington also said he was happy with the pairings he made.

"I'm very comfortable again with the team I've put out tomorrow," he said. "Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team."

The Saturday morning foursomes pairings start at 7:05 a.m. (1205 GMT) with Americans Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger facing Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm in a matchup of two day-one foursomes winners.

Americans Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, also first-day foursomes winners, will meet Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton.

Americans Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas meet Norway's Viktor Hovland and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

Cantlay and Schauffele return to play England's Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzparick.

Also sitting out Saturday morning for Europe will be Poulter, Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood.

"From the very start of this, we identified some groups that would be very good in foursomes," US captain Steve Stricker said. "And we feel really comfortable with them.

"We won that session 3-1. So in our mind, it's like, you know what, let's just send those four groups right back out there again."