Ryder Cup Day 2: Can Europe fight back after USA's dominant start?

The hosts powered into a 6-2 lead on day one at Whistling Straits to leave Padraig Harrington’s men with a mountain to climb going into Saturday’s action.

"We can come back from 6-2. If it's 6-2, we can come back."

This isn't a poor attempt at a palindrome; rather, they were the words of Rory McIlroy after he'd suffered a second straight defeat on a punishing opening day for Team Europe at Whistling Straits.

At the time, 7-1 was on the cards so the Northern Irishman could at least hope for a four-point gap rather than a catastrophic deficit of six.

In the end Rory was spot on. Unfortunately, that was about the only thing he got right in Wisconsin on Friday.

With McIlroy out of sorts and after day one had been processed, European skipper Padraig Harrington decided that the fightback would have to start without one of his prized assets.

McIlroy has been dropped for Saturday morning's foursomes and the decision was hardly controversial.

Saturday foursomes pairings

(Tee-times are UK time)

1.05pm: Brooks Koepka & Daniel Berger v Sergio Garcia & Jon Rahm

1.21pm: Dustin Johnson & Collin Morikawa v Paul Casey & Tyrrell Hatton

1.37pm: Justin Thomas & Jordan Spieth v Viktor Hovland & Bernd Wiesberger

1.53pm: Xander Schauffele & Patrick Cantlay v Lee Westwood & Matt Fitzpatrick

Is there hope for Europe? Could they perhaps win the session 3-1 and cut the gap in half?

When trying to assess those games it's worth looking at how the 16 golfers on show have performed so far.

Individual points tallies

2 - Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson

1.5 - Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm

1 - Daniel Berger, Harris English, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Sergio Garcia

0.5 - Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland

0 - Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Bernd Wiesberger, Lee Westwood

Note that 11 of the 12 Americans have contributed something while seven of the Europeans are still on zero points.

Spieth was the only American to fire blanks but at least he produced the shot of the day!

Best bet on Day Two - Spain to reign again

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia were clearly the standouts for Europe on day one and it's the right move from Harrington to send them out first again.

Their opponents, Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, also won their opener (against Westwood and Fitzpatrick) but the two Spaniards played the better golf.

There's something special about the Spanish in Ryder Cups, especially when paired together.

Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal were one of the tournament's iconic duos and, overall, Spanish pairings have won 23.5 points from a possible 33. That's an amazing strike-rate of 71%.

Rahm and Garcia can extend it further on day two and they look the bet of the morning.

Does history suggest Europe can still win?

It's unusual to find a 6-2 scoreline after day one.

The last four Ryder Cups witnessed a 5-3 advantage after the first two sessions, all them in favour of the home side.

But there are a couple of historical precedents for Europe to cling to.

In 2012, Europe's 5-3 deficit became a 10-6 Saturday night lead for the Americans but Olazabal's men were still able to come back and win in a thrilling Sunday at Medinah.

Secondly, the last time we saw a 6-2 scoreline after day one, at Brookline in 1999, Ben Crenshaw's USA fought back to score a dramatic victory.

What the captains said after day one

Steve Stricker: "It's a great start. We are very happy with the start. But my message to the guys before I left is tomorrow is a new day.

"You know, let's just go out tomorrow and try to win that first session again in the morning and pretend today never happened, and let's keep our foot down and continue to play the golf that we know we can play.

"Yeah, and that's what we're trying to do and not try to get complacent with anything. You know, we've had some things that came up and bit us in the rear in other Ryder Cups, so these guys know that, and they are focused on tomorrow and coming out strong again tomorrow."

Padraig Harrington: "No doubt it was a tough day. Clearly not what you wanted, 6-2. There's obviously still 20 points to play for. We've only just played for about 25 percent at this stage. It isn't a good start, but there's still a lot to play for.

"My team played well today. You know, just a few times, the momentum, the odd putt didn't go in, and you need a bit of momentum. Things didn't go against us.

"But hopefully, I just think the last couple of matches there, when it was really, really tight, the boys came through, and those two halves at the very end were crucial for us, Tyrrell with the birdie on the last, very, very important in those situations.

"As much as we would have liked to have gotten wins on the board, we didn't feel like we could afford to have lost those matches. Maybe a little bit of momentum swing there, and we feel good about that. And coming out tomorrow, obviously we need a big day."

READ MORE: Team USA and Team Europe, player by player

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