Ryder Cup: Commentator says Rory McIlroy has been ‘scapegoat’
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Team Europe Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington was forced to hastily switch his pairings just 24 hours before they were set to be announced for the opening foursomes session on day one.
The European team fell to the biggest defeat in the modern era of the team match play tournament, after the young and firing American side cruised to a record-breaking 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits.
And it has now been revealed that the European’s problems began before the event had even kicked off, as it emerged that some of his pre-paired groupings were unable to play alongside each other due to using a different ball.
According to reports from the Telegraph, Harrington’s plans were thrown into chaos on the Wednesday before play was supposed to begin on the Friday after he learnt that Lee Westwood and Paul Casey, as well as Viktor Hovland and Matt Fiztpatrick were unable to play alongside each other due to using different models of the popular Titleist ball.
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An insider told the Telegraph: “Maybe they should have thought about the ball issue earlier, as it is always part of the equation of putting two players together in a foursomes. But all four play Titleist and you might have thought it would be fine. Yet there are different sorts of Titleist balls.”
As a result, the Irishman was forced to quickly re-think his pairings on the eve of the event after it emerged that Fitzpatrick played the Titleist Pro V1x ball from 2019, whilst Hovland favoured the Pro V1 from 2021.
The case was also similar for English duo Lee Westwood and Paul Casey, who like their other two teammates also play the famous Titleist ball but use separate models, leading to some chopping and changing between the four in question.
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This then saw Fitzpatrick team up with Westwood on day one, with Casey joining Hovland however the change seemed to be no help to the visiting team as both pairs lost their foursome matches, as the American’s set the tone for the event by taking the opening session 3-1.
This problem may not have arisen for captain Harrington pre 2006, as before the event at the K Club players were allowed to swap balls each hole during their foursomes pairing, making it easier to pair players together and plan which man out of the duo would play each hole.
However this ruling was changed for the 2006 event in Dublin, meaning foursome partnerships are now unable to swap their ball.
This one ball ruling came into play at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, as Rickie Fowler was penalised in a match alongside Jim Furyk against Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
After his teammate fired his shot into the galleries Fowler was forced to take a drop for the pair’s next shot, however instead of dropping the ball played by Furyk the American instead dropped the ball from his pocket leading to the automatic loss of the hole to their opponents.
Westwood and Kaymer would then go onto half the match with their opponents following the rule break, and the eventual half proved pivotal as Europe would go on to win the event in Wales 14 ½ – 13 ½ .
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