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Europe stage rousing Friday afternoon fightback to seize 5-3 Ryder Cup lead

Stenson and Rose lead the way, as Europe win all four matches in a foursomes session for the first time.

AFTER USA’S INITIAL surge at Le Golf National, Europe staged a rousing foursomes comeback on Friday afternoon, as Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose led the charge for Thomas Bjorn’s side, who take a 5-3 lead into the weekend.

42nd Ryder Cup - Day One - Le Golf National Rory McIlroy celebrates holding a putt on six. Source: Adam Davy

USA’s dominance in the opening Ryder Cup fourballs handed the visitors all the momentum in Paris — Jim Furyk’s men storming into a 3-1 lead — but a remarkable whitewash has dramatically changed the complexion of the scoreboard in Europe’s favour.

Wildcard pick Stenson, who like Garcia was left out in the morning, reprised his old successful partnership with Justin Rose to take a 4-up lead after 12 holes against world number one Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, before completing a 3&2 victory for Europe’s second point.

Garcia, playing in his ninth Ryder Cup, and rookie Alex Noren stormed into a 7-up lead at the turn on Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau at a raucous Le Golf National, and duly recorded a 5&4 win which stamped Europe’s authority on the biennial match. 

Mickelson was especially erratic, with the American pairing four-over par for the front nine.

Rory McIlroy, in poor form in the fourballs, fell two-down early alongside the talismanic Ian Poulter against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson — but the European duo rebounded strongly and upon finding their range, romped to a 4&2 win. 

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, impressive winners just hours earlier, found themselves three-down to Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, who had grabbed Europe’s only point so far by vanquishing Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed.

Their 5&4 victory ensured Europe won all four matches of a Ryder Cup foursomes session for the first time, and are now in the driving seat heading into Saturday morning’s fourballs, the pairings for which are expected to be announced in due course. 

42nd Ryder Cup - Day One - Le Golf National Fleetwood produced some stunning golf on Friday. Source: David Davies

Astonishingly, the four US foursomes pairings managed just one birdie between them over the front nine, enabling their opponents to seize the initiative simply by playing solid golf on a challenging course.

Europe ultimately cruised to their first whitewash in a Ryder Cup session since the opening day of the 1989 event at the Belfry — inflicting a first foursomes sweep on the USA, two years on from suffering a 4-0 loss of their own at Hazeltine.

All 24 players were given an outing on Friday, but the wholesale changes from the fourballs yielded far greater reward for Bjorn’s side.

“It’s hard to say it’s not right at the top as a session, but then you’ve got to look at the other way and say this morning’s session wasn’t at the top,” said Bjorn.

“It is right at the top. When you clean-sweep, that is something that is pretty special to all those players that are out on that golf course.”


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Ryan Bailey

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