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Ryder Cup 2021: Europe abandons Rory McIlroy for Saturday foursome after two losses on opening day

ory McIlroy will watch from the sideline for the first time in his Ryder Cup career as Europe look to close a massive four-point deficit at Whistling Straits.

McIlroy had played 26 straight games since making his debut at Celtic Manor in 2010, but lost twice on Matchday 1 – alongside Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry – without even reaching the 16th hole.

So it was no real surprise to see the quadruple major winner excluded from Saturday’s quartets, with Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia being sent off again after their victory on Friday.

The Spanish pair were drawn to face Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka, with Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa and rookies Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger taking on Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in Game 3.

Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick, who lost their four-way game on Friday, faced Patrick Cantlay and Xander Sc Chaudele in Game 4.

Speaking of McIlroy after submitting his pairs but before announcing them publicly, Harrington said: “You saw him there after a hard day, he was following these games and supporting his team.

“He truly is a leader among his peers and I couldn’t have asked for more from him during the year, I couldn’t have asked for more from him on Friday.

“Yes, golf hasn’t gone as well as it would have liked, but I don’t question it for a second in terms of leadership and what it does for my team.”

Harrington admitted his team were ready for a tough weekend and would likely have to slowly reduce the United States’ four-point advantage.

“You can’t just turn around and try to take a lead right away in one sitting,” Harrington said. “It would be nice if that happened, but you can’t think of it like that. You have to do it slowly, one step at a time.