Ryder Cup 2018: Three takeaways from USA’s dominant opening matches | Golf
For the first time in Ryder Cup history, everyone ranked in the top 10 in the world made the field this week, and Friday morning’s fourball matches promised plenty of excitement in France.
The U.S., trying to defend its Ryder Cup win two years ago at Hazeltine National, won three of the first four matches to take a commanding lead over the home Europe squad.
Gusty winds have made the water-heavy Le Golf National tough on the the Ryder Cup’s first day, but the U.S. calmed the storm with poise and solid putting.
Three takeaways from the Friday morning fourballs:
1. The U.S. is deeper and more explosive. Not only do the defending champions have 12 strong, solid players who could play all five sessions and get solid results, but they also have power off the tee and a number of players used to making birdies in bunches. Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler thumped Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen, 4 and 2. That couldn’t have been good for Europe’s psyche.
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) September 28, 2018
While the U.S. won two of its three early Friday morning matches 1 Up, the Americans jumped out early on Europe in fourballs with Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau (an odd pairing at first glance) beating Justin Rose and Jon Rahm, and Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth beating Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton.
2. Tiger Woods couldn’t keep the momentum going. Fresh off his first victory in five years last week at the Tour Championship, Woods, paired with Ryder Cup savant Patrick Reed, looked poised to enjoy a successful week in his return to team competition. But Woods struggled Friday morning, while Europe’s Francesco Molinari made four birdies in tough conditions.
Woods and Reed lost, 3 and 1, to Molinari and Fleetwood, and Woods looked a little worn down by the end of his match. With just two birdies on his scorecard, Woods will have to re-evaluate how he attacks this course. He’ll have time to do that as he sat out Friday afternoon’s foursomes.
3. Europe’s veterans are struggling. McIlroy was ugly, failing to make a birdie. Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter didn’t play in the morning, and early signs in Friday afternoon foursomes weren’t promising. Europe had young stars playing great on the European Tour in Matt Wallace, Eddie Pepperell and Thomas Pieters, but again chose to pick struggling veterans.
Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari were great in the morning wave, but they’re going to need some help if Europe is to come back and reclaim the Ryder Cup.