Golf news - USA make flying start to Ryder Cup defence
The US made an impressive start to their defence of the Ryder Cup as they produced a rousing finish to claim a 3-1 lead over Europe after the Friday morning fourballs at Le Golf National in Paris.
Jim Furyk's side - chasing a first win in Europe since 1993 - always looked the team more in touch with their game as only a 3&1 defeat for Patrick Reed and a toiling Tour champion Tiger Woods - struggling with a stiff back - to Open champion Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in the bottom match of Friday morning's fourballs prevented a whitewash.
Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau held out for a 1up victory over Justin Rose and Jon Rahm - who were two up with six holes remaining - while Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler were utterly dominated in a 4&2 victory over a poor Rory McIlroy and Thorbjørn Olesen.
Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton battled back from three down against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas after seven holes only for Thomas to birdie the 15th to apply the pressure.
Hatton missed a birdie attempt at the 18th to halve the match as the USA ended the session well in control of their own destiny with a two-point lead.
McIlroy, who arrived in France in mixed form, look subdued all morning as he struggled to find his groove and failed to score a birdie.
His disappointing start in the fourball contest may cause European captain Thomas Bjorn some concern about the afternoon's play. McIlroy will team up with Ian Poulter for the foursomes.
Under a gorgeous autumn sun and soft breeze, neither side could establish an early lead at the immaculate Golf National, outside Paris. Fowler on the sixth came close to sinking a chip for eagle and left McIlroy leaning on Olesen to make birdie and halve the hole.
The Europeans drew first blood on the 8th, where a par three was enough for Olesen to win the hole. It was the only hole the Europeans would win.
The Americans responded immediately. On the par five 9th, McIlroy pushed his drive into the rough and Olesen found water. Fowler played a delicate chip from off the green, using the fringe to check his ball’s speed and leave himself just a few inches from the cup to win the hole.
From there, Fowler, ranked 9 in the world, and Johnson turned the screws, scoring another four birdies.
On the 14th, Fowler sank a 40-foot birdie putt after a glorious wood shot from the fairway, turning around what looked a lost cause after he hit his drive into the thick rough.
Three holes down, the Europeans never looked like clawing their way back into the game. A birdie by Johnson on the par 3 16th hole sealed the game for the Americans.
"We knew we were going out in a tough match and would have to play well. We both played great," said Johnson after his victory.
One statistic the Europeans will now be left battling to defy: Since 1975, the team that has won the first point of the Ryder Cup has gone on to win the event 79 percent of the time.
"The crowds are great, they’re energetic, playing for the home team a bit more but they’re respectful," Fowler said. "I’m glad we got off to a good start."
The first team to 14.5 points win the Ryder Cup with the US needing 14 to retain the trophy.
Friday morning fourballs: Europe 1 USA 3
- Justin Rose & Jon Rahm lost to Brooks Koepka & Tony Finau 1UP
- Rory McIlroy & Thorbjørn Olesen lost to Johnson & Rickie Fowler 4&2
- Paul Casey & Tyrell Hatton lost to Jordan Spieth & Justin Thomas 1UP
- Franceso Molinari & Tommy Fleetwood beat Patrick Reed & Tiger Woods 3&1
Friday afternoon foursomes:
- Henrik Stenson & Justin Rose v Dustin Johnson & Rickie Fowler
- Rory McIlroy & Ian Poulter v Bubba Watson & Webb Simpson
- Sergio Garcia & Alex Noren v Phil Mickelson & Bryson DeChambeau
- Francesco Molinari & Tommy Fleetwood v Justin Thomas & Jordan Spieth