Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter were well beaten by Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay in the opening session of the 2020 Ryder Cup


The postman always delivers, except when he doesn’t. Maybe that’s a little harsh but there’s no denying the much-anticipated pairing of Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy failed to ignite in the opening session of the 2020 Ryder Cup

It takes two to tango, especially in foursomes, and there was certainly nothing to dance about for two of Europe’s finest in the anchor match against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

Losing to a birdie at the first was no cause for alarm – even if McIlroy’s poor wedge shot was all too familiar – but as they trudged towards the sixth tee at two-over-par and five-down, it was virtually impossible to see a way back.

“Yeah, the start wasn’t great,” McIlroy said with more than a hint of sarcasm. “I don’t know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today.”

While it’s true that Schauffele and Cantlay were undeniably good for their eventual 5&3 win, to say they were unbeatable is potentially a stretch. McIlroy and Poulter’s struggles were stark in contrast to the other seven foursomes pairings on the course. 

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A rally around the turn – during which they made three birdies in four holes – reduced the deficit to three with seven to play, but the damage was already done, with Schauffele in particular snuffing out any potential revival with a series of laser-like approach shots. 

“They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played,” the Northern Irishman added in typically classy fashion. 

For the 15 holes, McIlroy and Poulter were level-par, meaning they were the only team who failed to get on the better side of the Whistling Straits scorecard.

Despite this, Poulter was pleased with how he and his partner equipped themselves.

“[It’s] a shame because we actually played quite well,” Europe’s postman said. “You know, they have played exceptionally good golf in foursomes.

“It’s not nice to get off to the start five-down through five. Not easy to come back, and they finished the match off.”

Europe face an uphill battle to get back on level terms, with the US side taking a 3-1 advantage into the afternoon four-balls.

McIlroy is back in action alongside Shane Lowry, while Poulter has been rested.