Rory McIlroy believes playing patient golf will be the trick to succeeding once more in a major.

The former world number one is a four-time major winner, but the last of those victories came in 2014 at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy has enjoyed plenty of success since then, winning such as the Tour Championship twice, the Wells Fargo Championship twice, the DP World Tour Championship and the Players Championship.

While a fifth major success has eluded him, the 32-year-old is confident his chance will come again if he remains in the right mindset.

"I haven't won a major in the last seven years but I've basically won everything else," he told BBC Sport.

"I've won the Players Championship, I've won FedEx Cups, I've won Race to Dubai, I've won World Golf Championships, I've won national opens. You know, I've done a lot in the past seven years.

"That hasn't included a major championship but I've played good enough golf in those seven years to win one and I'm staying as patient as I possibly can and, as I say, just giving myself chances.

"I don't think there's anything I should or could do differently. I think the one thing that's held me back, especially in the majors over the last few years, is just getting off to slow starts.

"Opening up at Augusta with a 72 or a 71 and not shooting that 67 or 68 that puts you right in the thick of the tournament from the very start.

"I can't go into the first round of a tournament or on a Wednesday night under pressure to try and shoot a good score. I just have to go out there and let it happen.

"Historically when I've got myself up there early in a tournament I've been able to stay there and capitalise on that start."

McIlroy also believes the depth of quality rivals he faces has made the challenge of winning another major even greater.

"I think I haven't given myself enough chances," said the world number eight.

"I think if I'd have had more chances and realistic chances, just putting yourself in those positions, the more comfortable you are going to feel up there. 

"If you keep knocking on the door, one of those doors is going to open for you.

"I had a chance at Carnoustie in 2018, played the final group with Patrick Reed in 2018 at Augusta, tied for the lead with nine holes to go at the US Open last year at Torrey Pines.

"I've had a few chances and just haven't capitalised. I think players are getting better and better.

"When I last won back in 2014 I'd never heard of [Open champion] Collin Morikawa, I'd never heard of [world number one] Jon Rahm.

"A lot of these guys coming through are playing unbelievably good golf. I don't just have to beat five guys."

Rory McIlroy wants to follow Tiger Woods' lead as he strives to return to the peak of his powers this season.

It is seven years since McIlroy won the last of his four major titles and he was reduced to tears when frankly stating he "should have done more" to try and prevent Europe from slumping to a record defeat to the United States in the Ryder Cup last September.

McIlroy went on to end 2021 with a flourish, winning the CJ Cup and finishing in a share of sixth in the DP World Tour Championship after holding the lead heading into the final round.

The 32-year-old, who will start his season at the Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend, has outlined his intention to adopt an approach that worked so well for the legendary Woods over the years.

"There are certainly aspects of what he did so well in the past that I would obviously love to put into my game," said the Northern Irishman.

McIlroy is not looking to try match Bryson DeChambeau in the driving department, though.

He added: "No, I don't need to. The goal of hitting more fairways, it maybe means throttling back and hitting three-wood a little more often or hitting clubs that are maybe not as aggressive off tees and just putting yourself in the fairway.

"I'll certainly pick and choose my spots where I can take advantage of the driver and hit it, the best player of the last 30 years, Tiger, he picked and chose where he hit driver and he played a very, very controlled game. It didn't work out too badly for him."

McIlroy revealed he is taking a different approach when setting his goals for the year.

"I used to sit down on the flight here and write down I want to win five times, I want to win a major, I want to win The Race to Dubai, I want to win the FedExCup, I'd love to win six times in a season as I've won five in the past, I want to do this or that," he said.

"And all those things are great goals and they are things to try to work towards. But I think the biggest thing for guys at the level that we're at is I want to hit over 60 per cent of my fairways.

"I want my proximity [to the hole] inside 150 yards to be a certain number. I want my strokes-gained putting to be a certain number. I can't control if I win five or six times a year.

"There's so many other variables in there. I'd rather set goals that are objective and measurable that I'm in control of.

"I can certainly control if I hit 60 per cent of the fairways and I'd love to get my iron play back to where it was a few years ago. I can control if my stats are better than they were the year before."

Rory McIlroy leads the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after the opening round, but Race to Dubai frontrunner Collin Morikawa was Thursday's big winner.

A seven-under 65 gave McIlroy a two-stroke advantage at the top of the leaderboard at Jumeirah Golf Estates, with Tapio Pulkkanen, Joachim B. Hansen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a three-way tie behind him.

McIlroy, whose 14th and most recent European Tour win came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019, made a flying birdie-eagle start and only dropped a single shot all day at the ninth.

After turning in 31, the Northern Irishman protected his day-one advantage over a steady back nine.

McIlroy, who beat Morikawa at the CJ Cup last month, believes he has "got [his] golf game back" since contributing only a single point to Europe's Ryder Cup defeat.

"I'm just excited for the road ahead, because I feel like I'm on the right path," he said.

But the main focus this week is on the Race to Dubai, in which McIlroy is 20th and out of the running.

First-placed Morikawa has competition chiefly from fellow American Billy Horschel this week following Jon Rahm's withdrawal, although four other players could also yet scoop the seasonal title with 2,000 points on the line in Dubai.

Of the six contenders, Morikawa is best placed heading into Friday after his four-under 68 secured a share of fifth.

Crucially, Horschel endured a difficult start as three bogeys across four holes on the back nine set him back and he carded a two-over 74 – a hugely damaging deficit given his need to outperform Morikawa.

Rounds of 70 for Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey kept the English trio in the mix, although each need to win and see Morikawa struggle. Min Woo Lee, the sixth man in contention, has work to do from even par.

Rory McIlroy has opted to work solely with long-time coach Michael Bannon once again after splitting with Pete Cowen.

McIlroy turned to swing guru and straight-talking Englishman Cowen eight months ago as he strived to return to the peak of his powers.

The four-time major champion ended an 18-month trophy drought when he won the Wells Fargo Championship in May and claimed his 20th PGA Tour title with a CJ Cup triumph last month.

McIlroy has now decided to only work with Bannon, who first coached his fellow Northern Irishman at the age of eight.

"Michael and I are back working together," McIlroy told Golfweek.

"I've always had a relationship with Pete and I'll ask for his input if I need it. But now it's Michael and me."

McIlroy had stated after his CJ Cup triumph: "There was a lot of reflection the last couple weeks and this is what I need to do.

"I just need to play golf, I need to simplify it, I need to just be me. For the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try to get better and I sort of realised that being me is enough and being me, I can do things like this."

An emotional Rory McIlroy claimed he should have done more to help his European team as they were crushed by the United States in the Ryder Cup.

Defending champions Europe entered the final day at Whistling Straights 11-5 down and required the biggest comeback in the history of the competition to get their hands on the trophy.

That rarely looked like happening, though, with the USA guaranteeing they would win back the trophy when Collin Morikawa secured a half point against Viktor Hovland, enough to give the host nation an unassailable lead, reaching 14.5 points with the promise of plenty more points to come.

McIlroy, competing at his sixth Ryder Cup, failed to pick up a point during the first two days of action, but he did seal a 3 and 2 victory over Xander Schauffele on the final day.

Fighting back tears, the Northern Irishman said he was not happy with his display and had let down his team-mates.

"I love being a part of this team," he told Sky Sports. "I love my team-mates so much, and I should have done more for them this week.

"I'm glad I put a point on the board for Europe today. I just can't wait to get another shot at this. It is by far the best experience in golf and I hope little boys and girls watching this today aspire to play in this event or the Solheim Cup because there's nothing better than being part of a team.

"No matter what happens after this I'm proud of every single one of the players that played this week, proud of the captain and the vice captains. I wish I could have done a little more for the team.

"It's been a tough week."

Speaking to NBC, the 31-year-old added that the Ryder Cup is comfortably the best event he has ever played in.

"The more I play in this event I realise it's the best event in golf, bar none," he said.

"I've never really cried or got emotional over what I've done as an individual, I couldn't give a s***, but this team and what it feels like to be part of a team is phenomenal."

The United States claimed the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits as they defeated Europe by a record margin with a 19-9 triumph on Sunday.

Padraig Harrington's side had won seven of the past nine editions of the biennial event but failed to recover from a six-shot disadvantage heading into the final day.

USA required just 3.5 points to claim the trophy on home soil, and they managed to reach that mark in just the fifth match of the finale as Collin Morikawa finished all square with Victor Hovland.

Europe had early hope through Rory McIlroy, who cruised past Xander Schaffuele to collect his first win at this year's edition but Patrick Cantlay quickly restored USA's dominance by defeating Shane Lowry.

Fellow rookie Scottie Scheffler enjoyed a magnificent singles debut, overcoming world number one Jon Rahm, before Bryson DeChambeau crushed Sergio Garcia with two holes to spare.

Morikawa and Hovland were neck-and-neck until the penultimate hole, where the former landed his iron shot within tap-in range to secure at least a half point and the trophy for the USA. Hovland won the last to halve their battle, but the Americans had the overall match in the bag.

Paul Casey chased Dustin Johnson but could not stop the two-time major champion from winning on the final hole to complete a 5-0-0 record, while Brooks Koepka eased past debutant Bernd Wiesberger despite a spirited performance from the Austrian.

Justin Thomas produced a dominant performance to demolish Tyrrell Hatton, while Lee Westwood - making his record 47th match appearance for Europe - picked up a consolation point against Harris English.

Ian Poulter also maintained his unbeaten record in singles matches to collect Europe's second win on the day, but that proved in vain, with Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood sharing the spoils as they both faltered on the 18th.

However, in the final pair, Daniel Berger edged past Matthew Fitzpatrick, who found the water at the last, as the USA defeated Europe by a record margin, surpassing the previous 18.5 to 9.5 win at Walton Heath Golf Club in 1981.

 

Shot of the day

Team USA were looking for a positive start to quash any suggestions of another repeat of the 'Miracle at Medinah' and DeChambeau provided exactly that in the fourth match of the day.

He comfortably reached the green with his drive on the par-four first, much to the delight of the Wisconsin crowd surrounding the tee box.

The world number seven could have claimed the 'shot of the day' tag with his drive, however, the subsequent 41-foot putt that followed to secure an eagle was both magnificent and important to place early pressure on the evergreen Garcia.

Player of the day

Scheffler, who was a Ryder Cup rookie and has yet to win on the PGA Tour, was sent out early and tasked with tackling world number one Rahm.

The American's rapid start, recording five birdies in the opening six holes, was enough to see off Rahm, who could not fight back from that point onwards and was finished off with three holes to go.

Sunday's singles win made it 2.5 points from a possible three, Scheffler unbeaten in the four-balls in a memorable debut in the Ryder Cup.

Chipping in

USA's winning captain Steve Stricker: "Speechless. Everything about it, these guys all came together. Two weeks ago they came together. Showed me a lot about this group of guys. They had a mission this week and you could tell, they played great and they came together. I just can't tell you - I mean, Brooks and Bryson wanted to play together; that's how much it came together. That shows a lot about this whole team."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington: "Of course we're disappointed. But the USA played well. Look, they out-played us, they are a strong team. They got their plan right. They got some momentum going. They started well. It's been good, no doubt about it. The fans were better - it's tough when you're going away and having no Europeans, but certainly above expectations in terms of an away crowd."

Rory McIlroy (on NBC): "I don't think there's any greater privilege to be a part of one of these teams, European or American. It's an absolute privilege. I've gotten to do this six times. They have always been the greatest experiences of my career. But this team, and what it feels like to be a part of, to see Sergio [Garcia] break records, to see Jon Rahm come into his own this week, to see one of my best friends, Shane Lowry, make his Ryder Cup debut. The more I play in this event I realise it's the best event in golf, bar none."

A little birdie told me...

Johnson entered this year's tournament with a 7-9 record in four previous appearances.

However, he made Ryder Cup history as he went 5-0-0, becoming just the fifth player to do so in a single Ryder Cup and the third since battles between Europe and the USA began in 1979. Previous matches saw teams from Great Britain, and Great Britain and Ireland, take on the Americans.

Johnson knew victory against Casey would see him etch his name in history, and he duly confirmed victory on the final hole, with the Englishman dragging his potential levelling putt wide.

Sunday's single results

Rory McIlroy (Eur) beat Xander Schauffele (USA) 3 and 2

Patrick Cantlay (USA) beat Shane Lowry (Eur) 4 and 2

Scottie Scheffler (USA) beat Jon Rahm (Eur) 4 and 3

Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Sergio Garcia (Eur) 3 and 2

Collin Morikawa (USA) tied Victor Hovland (Eur) A/S

Dustin Johnson (USA) beat Paul Casey (Eur) 1UP

Brooks Koepka (USA) beat Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 and 1

Ian Poulter (Eur) beat Tony Finau (USA) 3 and 2

Justin Thomas (USA) beat Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 4 and 3

Lee Westwood (Eur) beat Harris English (USA) 1UP

Jordan Spieth (USA) tied Tommy Fleetwood (Eur) A/S

Daniel Berger (USA) beat Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eur) 1UP

The 12 singles pairings for the final round of the Ryder Cup have been announced, with the United States looking to dethrone Europe on Sunday.

Team USA hold a commanding 11-5 lead following Saturday's foursomes and four-ball at Whistling Straits, where the hosts boast the biggest two-day advantage since 1975.

Steve Stricker's USA require just 3.5 points to reclaim the cup from Europe, who will need to produce the biggest ever comeback if they are to claim the required nine points to defend their crown.

"That was an important one," Stricker said after USA split the four afternoon matches. "If they blank us, they're right back in the game. I think getting two points and splitting the session is a good outcome for us."

Xander Schauffele will lead the Americans out to start Sunday's play in Wisconsin, facing struggling European star Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was dropped for Saturday's foursomes having struggled on Friday – the first time in the four-time major champion's Ryder Cup career that he has missed a session. He returned for the four-ball but fell to another defeat alongside Ian Poulter against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa 4 and 3.

The second matchup pits USA's Patrick Cantlay against Shane Lowry, while Europe captain Padraig Harrington put world number one Jon Rahm down to face Scottie Scheffler.

Bryson DeChambeau and European star Sergio Garcia meet in match four, American Collin Morikawa tackles Viktor Hovland and unbeaten USA veteran Johnson plays Paul Casey.

Elsewhere, Brooks Koepka is set to tee off against Bernd Wiesberger, Poulter and Tony Finau go head-to-head, Justin Thomas will clash with Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood goes up against Harris English, Jordan Spieth faces Tommy Fleetwood and the final matchup is a showdown between Daniel Berger and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Rory McIlroy has been dropped for Saturday's foursomes line-up against the United States as Padraig Harrington's Europe fight to recover from a forgettable opening day at the Ryder Cup.

Team Europe face an uphill battle to retain the Ryder Cup after the USA snatched their biggest opening-day lead since 1975 as the hosts surged 6-2 ahead on Friday.

McIlroy suffered two heavy defeats at Whistling Straits, where the former world number one will watch from the sidelines on Saturday morning.

A 5 and 3 loss to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele alongside Ian Poulter in the foursomes was followed by a 4 and 3 defeat in his pairing with Shane Lowry against Tony Finau and Harris English in the afternoon four-balls.

McIlroy – a four-time major champion – has been benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, having featured in every session since debuting in 2010.

"He's already a leader," Harrington said of McIlroy prior to the pairings being released. "You saw him out there after a tough day. He was out following those matches and supporting his team. He is very much a leader amongst his peers.

"I couldn't have asked more from him during the year. I couldn't have asked more from him today.

"Yeah, the golf didn't go as well as he would have liked, but I'm not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team."

World number one Jon Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia will lead Europe out against USA pair Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa will clash with Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger face American duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, while it is a Cantlay-Schauffele and Lee Westwood-Matthew Fitzpatrick showdown.

"I'm very comfortable again with the team I've put out tomorrow," Harrington said. "Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team."

Rory McIlroy has been dropped for Saturday's foursomes line-up against the United States as Padraig Harrington's Europe fight to recover from a forgettable opening day at the Ryder Cup.

Team Europe face an uphill battle to retain the Ryder Cup after the USA snatched their biggest opening-day lead since 1975 as the hosts surged 6-2 ahead on Friday.

McIlroy suffered two heavy defeats at Whistling Straits, where the former world number one will watch from the sidelines on Saturday morning.

A 5 and 3 loss to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele alongside Ian Poulter in the foursomes was followed by a 4 and 3 defeat in his pairing with Shane Lowry against Tony Finau and Harris English in the afternoon four-balls.

McIlroy – a four-time major champion – has been benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, having featured in every session since debuting in 2010.

"He's already a leader," Harrington said of McIlroy prior to the pairings being released. "You saw him out there after a tough day. He was out following those matches and supporting his team. He is very much a leader amongst his peers.

"I couldn't have asked more from him during the year. I couldn't have asked more from him today.

"Yeah, the golf didn't go as well as he would have liked, but I'm not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team."

World number one Jon Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia will lead Europe out against USA pair Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa will clash with Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger face American duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, while it is a Cantlay-Schauffele and Lee Westwood-Matthew Fitzpatrick showdown.

"I'm very comfortable again with the team I've put out tomorrow," Harrington said. "Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team."

The United States snatched their biggest opening-day lead at a Ryder Cup since 1975 as they powered 6-2 ahead of Europe at Whistling Straits.

All of Europe's worst fears were realised on Friday as the cup holders left themselves with everything to do over the weekend.

Rory McIlroy, rather than proving a talisman, suffered two heavy defeats, with world number one Jon Rahm's excellence not enough to prevent a landslide as Steve Stricker's American team dominated.

Rahm and Sergio Garcia put the first point of the day on the board, beating Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, but the home side bossed the rest of the morning foursomes to seize a 3-1 lead. Two more wins in the afternoon, and two halved matches, meant another 3-1 session for the USA, who will now look to assure themselves of a big lead heading into Sunday's singles.

There were shots that caught the eye, including an astonishing chip up a steep bank from Spieth in the morning and a 417-yard bomb from Bryson DeChambeau in the afternoon fourballs.

But it was consistent quality from the US team that put them in such a commanding position, with Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele both winning twice, including as a pair in the fourballs.

Johnson said: "Today was a great day for both me and Xander, and we both won our matches in the morning and this afternoon. Couldn't have been any better."

Patrick Cantlay, the PGA Tour Player of the Year, played with Schauffele in the morning as they trounced McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5 and 3, and he was then part of the last match of the afternoon, as he and Thomas came from three behind to halve against Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

"For sure I was feeding off JT a little bit, he was carrying me around all day today, he played great," Cantlay said. "Three and one in both sessions, that's a great start. Hopefully we can keep the pedal down and keep doing more of the same."

Europe's fortunes were summed up when Fleetwood hooked his tee shot at 16 into Lake Michigan, with Thomas holing a silky eagle putt to win that hole.

There was a huge boost for Europe, however, when Tyrrell Hatton holed a clutch putt at 18, winning the hole as he and Rahm snatched a half point against Scottie Scheffler and DeChambeau.

Rahm said: "I'm not going to lie: when I hit my bunker shot at 16 and we both had over 15 feet for birdie and they were both within 10 feet, things did look dark, to say the least. Luckily I was able to roll mine in and I told him [Hatton] that we can finish strong and still get this done.

"Not many people are as clutch as he is under pressure and he showed it right here so hopefully this gives him a lot of confidence for tomorrow and we get the ball rolling."


Shot of the day

Spieth conjured up an incredible shot on the 17th after playing partner Thomas had seemingly left him in an impossible position.

Spieth somehow chipped to around four feet away from the pin from the bottom of a steep bank in thick grass beyond railway sleepers. Spieth hurtled down to the edge of the water following his great escape, but his exploits were not enough to prevent Spanish pair Rahm and Garcia claiming the first point of the competition.

The three-time major champion said: "it's kind of one of those shots that you practice as a kid for fun, and you don't ultimately want to have it. And the chances of it going there, you could roll a thousand balls off the green, and it's not going it stay where it was.

"I hit like a 52-degree because a 60 might have gone over the back of my head and just tried to flick it right underneath and hit it as hard as I could, as high as I could."

Player of the day

At his fifth Ryder Cup, Johnson played like he is sick of that losing feeling, having known it three times already. He and Schauffele were a strong pairing in the afternoon, while Johnson guided Collin Morikawa through the morning foursomes. As McIlroy floundered for Europe elsewhere on the course, the US team had a seasoned member of their team step up and lead.

Chipping in

McIlroy: "Xander, Patrick, played wonderful, and Tony – I haven't seen Tony putt as good as that in a long time. When you have got a couple of pairs like that on form, on a difficult golf course where it's sort of hard to make birdies and they go on runs, if you're not quite 100 per cent on top of your game, it's tough. We can come back from 6-2."

Johnson: "Obviously we have a lot of support on our side, and MJ [Michael Jordan] is out there, he's a huge supporter of the Ryder Cup and huge supporter of golf, but it's nice to see him come out and support us."

Tony Finau: "You've just got to enjoy it. All these people out here cheering us on, that's the biggest thing. You have to enjoy it. I learned that in Paris, and the more you can just have fun with it, it seems to keep you loose, and I was able to roll the rock nicely today."

A little birdie told me...

Garcia is Europe's top points-scorer in Ryder Cup history and the Spaniard matched Nick Faldo's record tally of 23 match wins when he and compatriot Rahm drew first blood in the morning session.

Powerhouse  DeChambeau hit an astonishing 417-yard drive on the 581-yard par-five fifth hole, setting up an eagle to put himself and Scheffler one up in their four-ball contest with Rahm and Hatton.

Friday's foursomes results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (Eur) 3 and 2
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (Eur) 2 and 1
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (Eur) 5 and 3

Friday's four-ball results

Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Bernd Wiesberger and Paul Casey (Eur) 2 and 1
Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau (USA) halved with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur)
Harris English and Tony Finau (USA) beat Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry 4 and 3
Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay (USA) halved with Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood (Eur)

Tiger Woods may not be at Whistling Straits, but his influence was felt as the United States made a rip-roaring start to their Ryder Cup trophy bid.

The 45-year-old Woods is continuing his recovery from the February high-speed car crash near Los Angeles that left him with serious leg injuries, and it remains to be seen whether he is capable of playing again on tour.

But the 15-time major winner is willing the USA team to snatch back the cup from Europe, and Xander Schauffele revealed he had been in touch with a few words of encouragement.

Woods, who often struggled to take his world-beating form onto the Ryder Cup stage, had his say before the Americans raced into a 3-1 lead following the morning foursomes.

Schauffele, after teaming up with fellow debutant Patrick Cantlay to land a dazzling 5 and 3 win over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, confirmed Woods wanted to offer help from afar.

 

"We got a nice message from Tiger last night," Schauffele said on the Golf Channel.

"I'm not going to reveal what it said, but Pat and I knew and we referred to it a few times today, and we knew what we needed to do.

"We knew he was fist-pumping from the couch. Whether he was on crutches or not, he's as fired up as anyone back at home, so it's nice to have his support."

Woods has a disappointing record of just 13 wins from 37 Ryder Cup matches, an unexpectedly weak performance given his PGA Tour and major championship prowess.

But he remains an idol for many players on the team, with Schauffele and Cantlay two of six rookies on Steve Stricker's roster this year.

Cantlay said: "[There's] no better role model and no better leader and somebody you can always learn from.

"I saw him last week at home and picked his brain on Ryder Cup and applied some of that here today."

The USA pair sped to a 5up lead through five holes on the way to their dominant victory, feeding off the largely American crowd.

A disappointed McIlroy said: "The start wasn't great. I don't know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today.

"They played really good, four birdies in a row. Geez, yeah, they played great. They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played."

Bryson DeChambeau endured a wild third round, but the FedEx Cup play-off hopeful still ended the day tied for the lead alongside Patrick Cantlay at the BMW Championship.

DeChambeau carded a five-under-par 67 to earn a share of the three-stroke lead through 54 holes at the second FedEx Cup play-off tournament on Saturday.

The 2020 U.S. Open champion's round had a little bit of everything, from back-to-back eagles to back-to-back shots in the water at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland.

DeChambeau was flawless on the front nine, mixing two eagles and as many birdies as he turned a one-shot deficit into a three-stroke lead within two holes.

The 27-year-old is the fourth player to make back-to-back eagles this PGA Tour season, while he is only second to Cam Davis (20) for most eagles (19).

Just as DeChambeau threatened to run away from the field, the big-hitting American stumbled, settling for a share of top spot after finding the water at the par-five 12th hole (bogey) and par-three 13th (double bogey).

"It was definitely colourful," DeChambeau – projected to be second in the FedEx Cup points race – told PGA Tour radio. "Thought I played pretty well the front nine, did mis-hit a drive on seven.

"Felt weird. From then on out I wasn't driving it very well, so that's what I'm going to do, work on that for tomorrow. If I can get that straightened out like I did the first few days, off the tee the first couple holes today, I mean, I'll give myself a great chance again."

Cantlay – the current FedEx Cup leader – is also 21 under heading into Sunday's final round following his six-under-par 66.

He was almost bogey-free on day three, holing an eagle and five birdies before bogeying the last.

Im Sung-jae is the nearest challenger after his third-round 66, while Rory McIlroy (65), Abraham Ancer (66), Sam Burns (65) and Sergio Garcia (67) are tied for fourth at 17 under.

World number one and defending champion Jon Rahm lost ground, dropping to outright eighth – five shots back – after a two-under-par 67.

FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson posted a seven-under-par 65 to be 14 under, while Brooks Koepka (69) ended the day a further four shots behind – two strokes better off than Justin Thomas (69).

Xander Schauffele landed Olympic gold on the golf course for the United States after a dramatic final round saw Rory Sabbatini's 61 almost snatch top spot on the podium.

A terrific third shot at the 18th left Schauffele with a short putt for victory, after he found deep rough off the tee and could not go for the green in regulation.

He held his nerve to protect his one-shot advantage, finishing on 18 under par as Sabbatini took a spirited silver for Slovakia.

The battle for the bronze at Kasumigaseki Country Club went down to a seven-man play-off, with Chinese Taipei's world number 208 CT Pan landing the third-place medal and Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy among those left disappointed.

By the time they reached the fourth extra hole it was down to a two-man battle between Open champion Morikawa and Pan, who had both posted closing 63s. Morikawa found sand with his second shot, the ball becoming plugged, and although he just about got it on the green, the putt he left went astray, leaving Pan to roll in an eight-footer for the medal.

Schauffele and Matsuyama were in Sunday's final group to start, just as they were at The Masters in April when Japan's newest golf star became his country's first men's major champion.

This time it was Schauffele's time to triumph, with the 27-year-old Las Vegas resident, who was born in San Diego, just about doing enough as a four-under 67 sealed the title.

And he could relax at last, the tension of the past hour all forgotten.


THIS ONE'S FOR DAD

Schauffele, whose mother was raised in Japan, was asked if it was his biggest career win and replied: "I'd like to say so, yeah."

His father, Stefan, has been with him in a coaching capacity this week, and Schauffele said: "I really wanted to win for my dad. I am sure he is crying somewhere right now. I kind of wanted this one more than any other.

"You are trying to represent your country to the best of your ability and then you add family stuff on top of that and I'm probably going to have a nice call with my grandparents tonight. I am sure they are back home, everyone is back home watching. I was feeling the love from San Diego and Las Vegas this whole time.

"I'm a little speechless right now, quite honestly."

 

Schauffele almost lost his ball when he drove into trees on the right side of the fairway on the par-five 14th, hitting a provisional ball in case there was no sign of the first.

That ball was soon located though, with Schauffele taking a penalty to bring it into a just-about playable position.

Matsuyama found the green in two but Schauffele was still short after four and was grateful to make six. Matsuyama went close with his eagle putt but had to settle for birdie, moving one shot behind Schauffele who slipped back to join Sabbatini on 17 under.

"It got a little dicey there," Schauffele later said. "When you are trying to win you need some things to go your way. I took a pretty big risk trying a hack-it-through-a-bush type shot and it missed my gap. I literally did the Matrix through these trees and it could have easily hit a tree and gone out. So, today was definitely my day."


HANGING TOUGH, DESPITE THE ROUGH

It was a hectic leaderboard all day long. Sabbatini had come from way back in the field thanks to his 10-under round and was waiting in the clubhouse to see what reward that would bring him.

Home favourite Matsuyama bogeyed the next to fall two back but gave himself a chance of birdie at the short next hole with a tee shot to around 10 feet, only to miss by a whisker.

Ireland's McIlroy was then two inches away from a birdie at the last that would have taken him to 16 under and secured bronze, yet he went into the play-off instead, as did Matsuyama.

Schauffele made birdie at 17 to edge in front on his own, and after the wretched tee shot at the last threatened to undo his gold medal mission, the American saved his best for last.

The third shot was almost right at the pin, finishing four feet away. Schauffele made no mistake, succeeding Justin Rose as Olympic champion, with the sport having returned to the Games programme in 2016 for the first time in 112 years.

The play-off also featured Chile's Mito Pereira, Great Britain's Paul Casey and Colombia's Sebastian Munoz, with Pan the unlikely figure to emerge with the bronze.

After an enforced absence in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Open is thankfully back on this year's golf calendar.

Royal St George's will host the 149th edition of the tournament, a welcome return to the Kent course that saw Darren Clarke triumph a decade ago.

Shane Lowry is the defending champion, having prevailed at Royal Portrush in 2019, but can he retain his crown? Will one of the big guns instead get their hands on the famous Claret Jug, or could another long shot follow in the footsteps of Ben Curtis, an unlikely champion at the venue back in 2003?

Ahead of the opening round, it is time to take a look at some of the players who could be in contention for glory in the final major of the year.

 

RAHM READY FOR OPEN CHALLENGE – Nicholas McGee

Jon Rahm has struggled to capture his best in four previous appearances at The Open, just one of which has seen him finish with an under-par score (-3 in 2019). However, only in 2018 has he missed the cut, and his blistering form in 2021 suggests he should be firmly in the mix this week.

His 11 top-10 finishes rank as the most on the PGA Tour this season. Rahm also leads the tour in scoring average (69.6) and in strokes gained (2.02 avg). Second in strokes gained tee to green and (1.82 avg) and fifth in greens in regulation (71 per cent), Rahm has displayed consistency that should lend itself to links golf. Further optimism came with a seventh-placed finish at the Scottish Open. The stage looks set for him to emphatically turn his Open fortunes around.

SPIETH HAS THE BELIEF – Russell Greaves

Jordan Spieth has three key things in his favour at this tournament: he's a man in form, he's exceptional with the putter, and he's won it before. The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year has an overall putting average of 1.566 on the PGA Tour in 2021, placing him seventh in that metric.

That showing on the greens has laid the foundations for a year in which the 27-year-old has enjoyed eight top-10 finishes. He was in a tie for third at the Masters and boasts a career aggregate score of 21 under at the Open Championship, marking him down as a leading contender in Kent.

NO DOUBTING THOMAS AFTER RECENT RUN – Dan Lewis

Justin Thomas has struggled on the links in his career but ended up in a tie for eighth at the Scottish Open last week – his first top-10 finish since winning the Players Championship in March. He opened and closed with rounds of 65 at the Renaissance Club, where he used a new putter, and has not carded a bogey in his last 25 holes.

The 28-year-old may not be among the top group of contenders, but the 2017 US PGA Championship winner is certainly capable of carrying his momentum into this event to claim a second major in his career.

DUSTIN'S TIME TO HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT - Timothy Abraham

The form book might be against him, but world number one Dustin Johnson can have a Claret Jug-shaped silver lining to a disappointing 2021 in the majors. The American failed to make the cut at both the Masters and the US PGA Championship, alongside a 19th-placed finish in the U.S. Open this year.

An aggregate career score of +15 in The Open is hardly the stuff of a potential champion, but a decade ago he tied second behind champion Clarke. Johnson is a better player now, and the type of optimist capable of winning a major out of the blue. Write him off at your peril.

GLORY FOR RORY AGAIN? ABSOLUTELY! – Chris Myson

The Open champion in 2014, Rory McIlroy is rightly seen as a contender in Kent. He did miss the cut at this tournament in 2019 – but that was the first time he has done so since 2013.

When the Northern Irishman gets to the weekend at The Open, he is usually competitive. He had four consecutive top-five finishes prior to his previous disappointing outing and has a total of five in his career, including that triumph seven years ago. A top 10 at the U.S. Open gave McIlroy some much-needed major momentum and he can now finish with a flourish in his final opportunity this year.

HATTON CAN LINK IT ALL TOGETHER - John Skilbeck

Considering the winners Royal St George's has thrown up in the 21st century - Curtis and a past-his-prime Clarke - you might as well stick a pin in the field and take your chances. Tyrrell Hatton has twice won the Dunhill Links Championship which points to him knowing how to handle an Open course, and he has scored victories on each side of the Atlantic in the past 18 months so brings recent experience of closing out tournaments successfully.

Whether he wins or not is another thing: there are missed cuts on his Open Championship CV. However, two top-six finishes in the last four editions suggests the Englishman might not be far away.

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