GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) — Best friends away from the golf course, it’s been a struggle for Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns when they play the sport together.
The latest example came when the Americans won only one hole in the opening match of the Ryder Cup on Friday.
Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton quickly dispatched the top-ranked Scheffler and Burns 4 and 3 in 15 holes to earn Europe’s first point as the host team opened 4-0 in foursomes for their best start ever.
Marco Simone superintendent Lara Arias grinned and then cheered when Scheffler hit the very first tee shot of the competition into a thick collar of rough down the left side of the fairway.
Turns out Arias knew what was in store for the Americans, who later had to hit out of high grass next to a cart path after another errant shot.
“The atmosphere was pretty wild,” Scheffler said. “I wish the match obviously would have gone a little better for us today but Jon and Tyrrell played great. They didn’t make any bogeys. … Sam and I weren’t able to get enough looks for birdie.”
Burns, No. 20 in the world, was the only Ryder Cup rookie of the six captain’s picks. He finished 12th in the Ryder Cup standings, and his performance surely will be second-guessed.
Burns also played together three times with Scheffler at the Presidents Cup last year at Quail Hollow and they didn’t win once.
Burns, however, did sink a 6-foot birdie putt after an excellent second shot from Scheffler to win the Americans’ only hole at the par-4 sixth.
But Rahm responded immediately by rattling the flag with his tee shot at the 203-yard par-3 seventh.
At No. 10, the Europeans were in trouble after consecutive shots into the rough but Rahm then chipped in from off the green and Scheffler had to hole a putt to halve.
“We think about the game very similarly and we react to the game very similarly and we understand each other,” Rahm said of Hatton. “When one of us misses a shot, we know what’s going on in the other player’s mind. We might vocalize it differently, but at the end of the day it’s the same process. It’s like being in the same brain.”
Burns — who played with a “USA” engraved into the side of his buzz cut — and Scheffler often share a house at PGA Tour events and they credit their faith as the foundation of their friendship.
So they’re not about to get too down on themselves after a match in which they were simply outplayed.
“We fought pretty hard,” Scheffler said. “We birdied 6 to get back to 1 down and come back and Jon hit it to a foot on 7.
“Made two great pars on 8 and 9, making putts to halve a hole. And 10 it looked like we were going to have a chance to win and Jon ends up chipping in. I make my putt to halve the hole but they birdie the next two,” Scheffler added. “It was tough out there. They played really good. We just weren’t able to get the looks to have some putts to win holes and really flip the match.”
Burns sat out for the afternoon fourballs. Scheffler was paired with Brooks Koepka — the PGA champion and a player many American fans were hoping to see in the morning.
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