Ryder Cup Recap: Day One

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Ryder Cup Recap: Day One

It seems obvious that team USA has elected to return to the original spirit of the Ryder Cup team matches; that of an exhibition. How else to explain the generosity it showed in tossing four matches away in Friday’s afternoon session, after jumping out to a 3-1 lead over Europe? After all, seizing a 6-2 or 7-1 advantage would have meant that the Yanks actually cared to win this competition. How do I know all this? Well for starters, look at the margin of defeat in each of those foursomes (alternate shot) matches: 16th green, 16th green, 14th green, 14th green. Those are not razor-thin margins, readers. As always, there is more to the story, so let’s have a look at our day one Ryder Cup Recap.

Morning Four-balls

Things looked quite nice for the western hemisphere after 54 holes of golf in the better-ball competition. The teams of Finau-Koepka and Thomas-Spieth eeked out 1-up wins over Rose-Rahm and Casey-Hatton, respectively. The side of Johnson-Fowler was strong in a 4 & 2 win over McIlroy and Olesen. Unfortunately for the visitors, the tide began to turn as the Tiger Curse continued. With what seemed like his 400th losing partner, Tiger and Patrick Reed went down to defeat, at the hands of the Frank-and-Tommy Show. Molinari and Fleetwood dusted the heavily-favored Americans by a 3 & 1 margin.

The Ryder Cup rarely sees team play catch legitimate fire. Typical rounds are a back-and-forth affair, and this was the case with all four morning matches. Each time that Rose and Rahm appeared poised to leaver Finau-Koepka in their wake, the Americans found a way to bounce back. Buoyed by this tenacity, the Americans won three of the final six holes to escape with a win. Their success included the epitome of “hand of fate” for Finau. Have a look below:

THAT was a heck of a bounce, Mr. Finau.

— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA)

In the day’s second match, little happened until the turn, when Europe won its only hole of the McIlroy-Olesen era. Anticipate this being the beginning and the end of said partnership. Johnson and Fowler won five of the next eight holes, rendering the final two fairways inconsequential. Fowler’s putter was hot in the morning session, as evidenced by this long-range effort:

Rickie with a birdie from long distance.

— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA)

Match three offered the return of Paul Casey to RC competition. Casey and countryman Tyrrell Hatton battled back with zeal after falling behind by three holes on the outward half. The English duo snatch holes 11 through 13 from Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth to square the match. Only one of the final five holes would be won outright, and it would be enough to give the American pair the winner’s point. It’s not yet Sunday, so the fist pumps and chest thumps aren’t quite measuring on the Richter Scale. Still, putts like this one from Spieth will be necessary if the USA is to retain the Cup for the first time in what seems like forever:

Another hole. Another birdie for Spieth.

Thomas/Spieth move to 3-up.

— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA)

The fourth match of the AM assembly featured Woods and Reed being McIlroy and Olesen. The pair took a 2-up lead with birdies at nine and 10. That’s it. No more. Molinari and Fleetwood stormed back with wins on five of the next seven holes. No idea where the Red, White and Blue retired, they just simply … went … away. That can’t happen again for Team USA to win. Reed is Captain America, while Woods is Captain Irony. While Reed revels in Ryder Cup atmospheres, Woods cannot master the method that a GOAT should have  in team competition. Maybe the secret Fleetwood squat need be adopted by the American pair, to fire up their putters.

SOUND ON ????

— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope)

Afternoon Foursomes

These are either palatable (winning 1.5 points) or atrocious (getting skunked) for Team USA. The reality is, it’s more of a cultural way than it is a skill. Europeans have always understood that golf A) need not be played the same way all the time; and B) can be played quickly if you take half as many shots. Foursomes is a way of life at club and courses in Europe, allowing camaraderie AND a 2-hour 18 holes of golf. Lesson that should be learned in the USA, in order to make the game more enduring and endearing. Today? 4-0 whitewashing in the afternoon hours. Welcome back to the competition, Team Europe. You can stop now and go to the for highlights, but we’d prefer that you read what we have to say. Let’s start with this: Rory was two different golfers on day one. In the AM, he was AWOL; in the afternoon, he was this:

“That’s unbelievable!”

— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope)

Here are the afternoon numbers: 54 holes played, 27 holes won by the men in blue, 10 holes claimed by the guests in red. That’s so lopsided, it’s not worth debating. Four matches were played over the holes required for three rounds of golf. Early dinner reservations, Team Furyk? Miss your nap time? What we know is this: Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson went meekly into that good night, losing on the 16th hole to Poulter and McIlroy. Phil Mickelson and Bryson Dechambeau saw their first action and ghosted after 14 holes, at the hands of Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren. This won was particularly bad: the Euros won seven of the first nine holes. They won 1/4 of the European holes this afternoon, in a nine-hole stretch. Uggh. Yuck. Bleck. Phil was always going to be a suspicious Captain’s pick; he’s on the verge of being this year’s Lee Westwood, unless Tiger beats him to it.

Remember when Seve and Olazabal won everything in sight, and they were never separated? Same should happen with Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. They are straight fire when paired, and it should be written in stone that they never part. They were reunited in the afternoon, and they massacred two of the morning USA heroes, Fowler and Johnston. The Olympic pair (gold and silver medalists in Rio) took a 5-up lead before the Americans even attempted a rally; it was feeble, a mere 2 holes won, and the Europeans coasted to yet another afternoon point.

Finally, Molinari and Fleetwood continued their dominant ways. They dispatched Spieth and Thomas by a 5 and 4 tally. The Euros won three out of four holes on the front, two consecutive holes at the turn, then two more in a row, midway through the homeward half and that was that.

Hottest thing in France right now?

Tommy Fleetwood’s putter ????

— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope)

No doubt, Europe have the home feel, so Team USA need an extra bit of effort to remain valid. Tiger and Reed MUST win tomorrow morning. Team USA must win at least 2.5 points in the morning, to narrow the two-point gap. Then, they must do no worse than 2-2 in the afternoon foursomes. Anything worse than a 10-6 deficit, heading into Sunday’s 12 singles points, will be too much to overcome for the colonial squad.

Ryder Cup Recap: Day One

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