Associated Press American Bubba Watson reacts after missing a putt on the 15th green during his foursome match with his teammate Webb Simpson on the opening day of the 2018 Ryder Cup on Friday.
Saturday, September 29, 2018 1:00 am
Afternoon belongs to Europeans
DOUG FERGUSON | Associated Press
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Three matches in the books, three red points on the board, and Tiger Woods was still on the golf course.
This was exactly the start the Americans wanted in the Ryder Cup.
And then Europe finished even better.
Four hours later, the cheers at Le Golf National ramped up to a feverish pitch as Europe swept all four matches Friday afternoon for a 5-3 lead. It was the first time Europe swept a session since 1989, and the first time ever at the Ryder Cup in foursomes.
“We didn't come here to win the foursomes,” Francesco Molinari said. “We came here to win something else.”
Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood were the only Europeans to play both matches, and they won them both. They combined for five birdies over their last seven holes to polish off Woods and Patrick Reed and salvage something from a morning that belonged to the Americans. They took down Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the afternoon.
“It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride,” European captain Thomas Bjorn said. “We know it's a marathon, and we're delighted with the way the day turned out because it was a fairly tough morning. We go home happy tonight, but we refocus and look forward to tomorrow.”
The change was noticeable in the body language.
The Americans walked tall and had reason to feel as though nothing could go wrong, especially Tony Finau. It was his amazing fortune that turned the tide in the morning. He and Brooks Koepka were 1 down to Justin Rose and Jon Rahm on the par-3 16th when Finau's 8-iron appeared headed for the water. Instead, it landed on the 12-inch wide boards that frame the green, soared into the air as the gallery gasped, and plopped down 3 feet from the hole.
They wound up winning on the 18th when Rose hit into the water, the only time Finau and Koepka led all match.
In the afternoon, the mood changed. Spieth was shaking his head after all those putts that dropped in the morning slid by the edge of the cup in the afternoon. Ian Poulter's eyes grew wider with each hole he won with Rory McIlroy in the afternoon.
“You see a change in body language,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said. “I'm sure the Europeans' body language significantly changed to all smiles and boisterous and hugs and high-fives, and I'm sure the looks on some of my players were not quite the happiest, and dead opposite this morning.”
The Americans are trying to end 25 years of losing the Ryder Cup in Europe, and for one morning, it looked as though this might be the time. By the end of the day, the Americans were seeing blue, and plenty of it.