GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) — All Rory McIlroy could do was stand back and applaud.
His playing partner, Matt Fitzpatrick, was in the midst of one of the great Ryder Cup scoring stretches and McIlroy had the best seat in the house at Marco Simone.
Six straight one-putts. A birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie run. A total of 60 feet of putts made.
At one point, McIlroy was just laughing.
“I was having goosebumps,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’d make a putt and the crowd would go crazy.”
It was quite the way for the former U.S. Open champion to end his losing streak at Ryder Cups.
After five straight defeats across away matches in 2016 and 2021, Fitzpatrick finally put a win on the board for Europe by joining forces with McIlroy to beat Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele 5 and 3 in the afternoon fourballs on Friday.
It was the first time Fitzpatrick had played fourballs at a Ryder Cup. Unsurprisingly, he quite liked it.
“I was laughing to Rory, (saying) `What do we do here then?”’ the Englishman laughed.
McIlroy was just happy to be there for the ride.
“For the first nine holes, I was trying to hang on to this man’s coattails,” the four-time major winner said, pointing to Fitzpatrick. “I said to him walking up No. 10, `At least I contributed twice.”’
Fitzpatrick has become a major champion since his last appearance at a Ryder Cup, at Whistling Straits where he lost twice in the foursomes with a 48-year-old Lee Westwood and then to Daniel Berger on No. 18 in the last singles match on the course. The trophy had been long won by the Americans by then so it was an experience Fitzpatrick called “odd.”
Two years later, Fitzpatrick was rested for the morning foursomes. Fresh for the fourballs, he exploded early by making a 10-foot putt for par for a half at No. 1 before rolling in birdie putts from 20 feet, 15 feet, 15 feet and 12 feet (for eagle) to win four holes in a row.
McIlroy was nothing but a bystander, and watched on at No. 6 as Fitzpatrick stiffed his approach and made his 4-foot birdie putt to leave the Europeans 5 up.
He didn’t make a birdie after that but it didn’t stop him pronouncing that it was “one of the greatest days I’ve had on a golf course.”
“I felt like as soon as I got on the green, I had a chance — didn’t matter where I was,” Fitzpatrick said. “You have days like that. You have days where it’s the complete opposite but I was happy to take advantage of that today.”