Trying to win overseas for the first time since 1993, the U.S. Ryder Cup team got off to a dream start, taking three of the first four morning four-ball matches (best ball) to go up 3-1 ahead of the afternoon foursomes (alternate shot) at Le Golf National near Paris.
Surprisingly, the only American team that suffered a loss was the duo that had the best odds to win, as Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed lost to the team of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, who entered the match with a combined 0 Ryder Cup points.
The Americans got off to a 1-0 lead when the team of Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson easily took out a struggling Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup rookie Thorbjorn Olesen, 4&2.
“We believe in each other,’’ Johnson said. “We did a good job of both not being out of a hole. If he was out, I picked him up and if I was out he picked me up. That’s what you’ve got to do in team golf.’’
Picking up the Americans’ second point was the team of Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, who never led until the final hole, but edged Justin Rose and Jon Rahm, 1-up, to go up 2-0.
“The opening nine holes and (we were) down early, which you never plan on,’’ said Koepka.
“Rose played unbelievable and Jon played well, too. But you’ve got to keep fighting. Tony got a lucky break on 16, which was great, and then he capitalized.’’
The “lucky break” Koepka was referencing was Finau’s tee shot on the par-3 16th that came up short but bounced off the barrier that guards the water and landed safely on the green, setting up a
short birdie putt.
“We’ll take the breaks whenever we can get them,” Finau said. “It’s the best break I’ve (ever) gotten when it meant something. I think that (shot) will be replayed for a long time to come. That was the momentum-changer in our match and we were able to take advantage of it.”
In the third match of the morning, a red-hot Jordan Spieth, and world No. 4 Justin Thomas, defeated Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton, 1-up, sending the U.S. to a commanding 3-0 lead.
Spieth had the strongest start of anyone in the morning, going 5-under par through the first seven holes.
“He was tearing it up … I told him I was fine riding the horse all 18 holes,” said Thomas.
“What a blast that was,’’ Spieth said. “Hopefully, we can keep riding it.”
In the final match, the Europeans ended Woods and Reed’s chances when Fleetwood made long-bomb birdie putts on Nos. 15 and 16.
“We just started making some putts,’’ Molinari said. “We played pretty good on the front nine. Patrick holed a great chip on 10 and that got us going. We had nothing to lose at that point. Tommy holed two amazing putts on 15 and 16. There’s a long way to go. We need to keep our heads down and keep working.’’
With the loss, Woods is now 2-8 playing in the anchor match of a session. He will not be part of the afternoon foursomes.
Credit: AP, Getty Images