SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Tiger Woods might be near 1,500 miles away from Whistling Straits while he recovers from leg injuries suffered in a February car accident, but he continues to play an important factor in the U.S. Ryder Cup campaign.
Woods – the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup Captain who would have been either a player or Vice-Captain on Steve Stricker’s team if fit – sent a motivational text to the team on Cup eve and it certainly had the desired effect on Olympic Gold Medalist Xander Schauffele and FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay.
Ryder Cup rookies Cantlay and Schauffele were incredible playing Foursomes together Friday morning, winning the first five holes out of the gate against European veterans Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter on their way to a 5 and 3 demolition job.
It was part of a dominant 3-1 morning session for the U.S. Team who are determined to win the Ryder Cup for just the second time in the last six attempts.
“We had a nice message from Tiger last night, and obviously not going to reveal what it said, but Pat and I knew. We referred to it a few times a day, and we knew what we needed to do,” Schauffele said.
“We knew he was fist pumping from the couch. Whether he was on crutches or not, he’s as fired up as any back at home. So it’s nice to have his support.”
Cantlay revealed he actually visited Woods in the lead up to the competition, fresh of winning the FedExCup, as he looked to garner any advice possible.
“(There’s) no better role model and no better leader, and just somebody that you can always learn from. I saw him last week at home, and just picked his brain on Ryder Cup and applied some of that here today,” Cantlay added.
While the duo didn’t reveal exactly what Woods had said there was an insinuation the 82-time PGA TOUR winner was reminding the U.S. Team to never let up and to keep the pressure on the Europeans at all times.
Having seen Europe come back from deficits before while winning four of the last five contests this U.S. Team is instead trying to begin a dynasty of their own.
“It is puzzling how we’ve lost a lot in the handful of years looking back at the past. But that’s the past. We’re here and we’re about the present or hopefully what the future is going to be like,” fellow rookie Collin Morikawa said.
With six Ryder Cup rookies, and eight members of the team under 30, it really is a changing of the guard for the U.S. Harris English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler join Morikawa, Schauffele and Cantlay as first timers but between the six they boast two majors, a FedExCup, an Olympic Gold medal and 22 PGA TOUR wins.
Morikawa paired with Dustin Johnson to win 3 and 2 over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland Friday morning while Berger was also victorious playing with Brooks Koepka in a 2 and 1 win over Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick. Scheffler and English were making their first starts in the afternoon Four-Ball session.