Europeans Avoid Disaster In Opening Fourball Session

The beauty of the Ryder Cup is the swings in momentum don’t only permeate single matches, but seemingly the entire scoreboard can go from covered in American red to European blue in a matter of minutes. 

That was precisely the case on Friday morning of the 42nd Ryder Cup as early European leads in three of the four matches flipped on its head, leaving the Euros scrambling to avoid the second Ryder Cup in a row in which they were shutout in first-day fourballs. 

While the team of Justin Rose and Jon Rahm held onto their 2-up lead well into the back nine, a Rory McIlroy-Thorbjørn Olesen front-nine 1-up lead through eight holes became a 3-down deficit through 13 holes.

Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton fought back from a 3-down deficit to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas through seven holes to be all square through 13. And Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari saw an early 1-up lead turn into a 2-hole deficit by the 10th.

Yet, in a Ryder Cup, as long as there are holes to be played, there are matches to be salvaged.

Despite Rose and Rahm’s lead over Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, the Americans were able to claw their way back — with the help of a fortunate bounce — and steal a point on the 18th hole.

Similarly, McIlroy and Olesen proved to be no match for the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler as the U.S. won five of the final eight holes to post a 4&2 victory. The Casey-Hatton comeback ran out of gas as well, losing the 15th hole to a Thomas birdie and halving the rest to fall 1-down. 

With only one match left on the course, the Europeans’ putters caught fire with Molinari birdieing 11 and 12 and Fleetwood sinking birdie putts on 15 and 16 to take a 2-up lead over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. 

With the Americans unable to conjure any magic on the 17th needing to win the hole, Molinari slammed the door with one final putt. 

The 3&1 victory by Fleetwood and Molinari salvaged a potentially catastrophic first session and gave the Euros some momentum heading into the afternoon foursomes matches. 

“It’s just been unreal this morning,” Fleetwood said.

“We started making some putts,” Molinari said. “We played really good on the front nine, but Patrick holed a great chip on 10 and that kind of got us going in a way. We had nothing to lose at that point and we played great since then.

“There’s a long way to go. We’re obviously behind as a team, so we need to get our head down and keep working.”