CHASKA, Minn. — The Latest on the Ryder Cup (all times local):
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will lead off Friday morning as the U.S. tries to regain the Ryder Cup following three straight losses to the European team.
Spieth and Reed will meet Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose in the alternate shot format that will begin three days of competition at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Americans Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler will face Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan in the second match. Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson will meet Europe’s Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer, and the final match will be Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar against Europe’s Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters.
After the morning foursomes there will be four better ball matches, with pairings announced late Friday morning.
Lee Westwood is the elder statesman on the European team. He is preparing for his 10th Ryder Cup, so he knows what it’s like to play in one of the most tense and competitive events in golf. He also knows what it’s like to win.
The Europeans are 8-2 since Westwood started in 1997 and are going for their fourth straight victory. The Americans formed a task force to try to identify ways to end the skid, and Westwood took a little jab at that maneuver on Thursday.
“You form a task force and it doesn’t go right this week, where do you go from there?” he said. “You’ve done pretty much all you can do. So we’ll see how that goes.”
The Americans are the favorite again, but they have been often over the last decade of futility.
“Winning is a habit and a lot of the players on The European team have that habit and know what the experience is like and what to do,” Westwood said.
Danny Willett says he’s sorry.
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
At a news conference Thursday, the Englishman and defending Masters champion apologized for at least the third time for an article his brother, Pete, wrote in the National Club Golfer ripping American fans.
Pete Willett described them as “pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants … pausing between mouthfuls of hotdog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red.”
Danny Willett had already apologized a day earlier to U.S. team captain Davis Love and then to the members of the U.S. squad.
“Obviously, it put a bit of a downer on my first Ryder Cup,” he said after a morning practice round that was relatively smoothly. “Luckily, it’s not too bad with the fans. The fans have still been great.”
The Ryder Cup is known for rowdy galleries. A vocal heckler walked the walk after talking the talk during the practice round on Thursday.
Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan took multiple cracks at a 12-foot putt on No. 8 and missed every time. David Johnson, of Mayville, North Dakota, let them know about it, saying he could make the putt. Henrik Stenson pulled Johnson from the gallery and Justin Rose laid a $100 bill right next to the ball, daring Johnson to make it.
After wisecracking that the putter he was handed was too short, Johnson muttered, “home soil, right?” Then he drilled the putt , eliciting a roar from the crowd. Johnson pumped his arms wildly and earned high fives from the entire Euro foursome as they exited the green.
“Has the Ryder Cup started already?” McIlroy tweeted while linking the video .
Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello may be the first surfer to make a Ryder Cup team.
The European rookie likes to hit the waves when he’s not hitting the links, though he would be hard-pressed to find any nearby surfing spots this week.
“It helps me take the mind away from golf,” Cabrera-Bello said. “I enjoy going to exotic surf places around the world, and just having it as time off.”
Cabrera-Bello said he took up surfing in his early 20s so he’s not as proficient at it as he is golf. But he says he can still find his way around a board.
“I’m not as low as a handicap as I would like, but I can surf decent enough,” he said.
Phil Mickelson is apologizing for using Hal Sutton as an example of how a Ryder Cup captain can put players in a position to fail.
Mickelson’s comment dominated Ryder Cup talk on Wednesday as he dredged up his two losses with Tiger Woods at Oakland Hills 12 years ago when Sutton was captain. Mickelson says he was ill-prepared because Sutton only told them they were playing together that week and he had to adjust to a different golf ball.
Mickelson later went on the Golf Channel to say he communicated with Sutton and that he felt awful. He says he wanted to use an example of how a captain can have a strong affect and didn’t mean it to come out that way. Mickelson says he was in the wrong and shouldn’t have brought that up.
Dustin Johnson says the U.S. team needs a short memory when it comes to the Ryder Cup.
He says the Americans have not brought up what happened at Medinah four years ago when they blew a 10-6 lead going into the final day, winning only three singles matches. That extended two decades of mostly losing.
The next chance starts Friday at Hazeltine. U.S. captain Davis Love III also is ignoring recent history. He says this a new team that has never played together.
That’s especially true for Europe, which has won eight of the last 10 times. Europe has six rookies on its 12-man roster. It has never won a Ryder Cup with that many newcomers when the matches were on the road.