Rory McIlroy had a tough outing during day one of the Ryder Cup on Friday, so much that he was benched heading into fourballs on Saturday.
McIlroy lost both his matches with Shane Lowry and Ian Poulter on the day, leading to 2002 PGA Championship winner and SkySports analyst Rich Beem to criticize the way that McIlroy played.
“He just didn’t have it, he didn’t seem to be comfortable out there. Whether it was on the greens, whether it was with the golf swings, he just seemed a little bit off-kilter today for some reason,” Beem said. “That can’t happen for the European side, you need to have Rory McIlroy out there and making birdies and making the US side earn points.
“But today, it wasn’t difficult against Rory McIlroy, on either side in either match, it was a pretty easy win both times.”
McIlroy was indeed a big part of Team Europe falling behind 6-2 on day one, the largest day one lead for Team USA since 1975. It’s troubling for the Europeans who no doubt needed McIlroy to step up. After all, McIlroy is the third-highest ranked European player in the world, residing at No. 15.
McIlroy’s play in 2021 has slipped considerably. No longer in the top-ten, McIlroy had just one win in the 2021 season, the Wells Fargo Championship in May at Quail Hollow. McIlroy’s struggles have carried over, but team Europe captain Padraig Harrington said on Friday that he still believes in McIlroy.
“You saw him out there after a tough day, he was out following those matches and supporting his team,” Harrington said. “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.”