- After digging themselves into a hole in the morning sessions, Europe dominated the afternoon foursomes to seize the lead in the first day of Ryder Cup action.
What a difference a couple hours makes.
After Team USA dominated the closing holes and grabbed a 3–1 advantage in the morning fourball session, Team Europe stormed back to sweep the afternoon foursomes, winning all four matches to take a 5–3 lead heading into Saturday.
It's the first time in Ryder Cup history that Europe has won all four matches in a foursomes session (they've won all four in fourball twice). Here's how each match finished:
• Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose d. Rickie Fowler/Dustin Johnson (3 and 2)
• Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter d. Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (4 and 2)
• Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren d. Phil Mickelson/Bryson DeChambeau (5 and 4)
• Tommy Fleetwood/Francesco Molinari d. Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth (5 and 4)
American captain Jim Furyk opted to deploy two of the three winning duos from the morning session—Johnson and Fowler, and Thomas and Spieth—in the afternoon while subbing out the Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, the team that came back to beat Justin Rose and Jon Rahm in the morning session. Furyk also benched Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed after the duo fell to Fleetwood and Molinari in the morning.
The most controversial decision of the afternoon for the Americans was the pairing of Mickelson and DeChambeau, the latter of whom was making his Ryder Cup debut. Mickelson is widely considered to be the American in the worst form, and his boom-or-bust play would seem to be a better fit for fourball rather than foursomes. Moreover, pairing him with a temperamental rookie making his first Ryder Cup appearance seemed like an odd choice.
The pairing lost seven of the first nine holes and looked out of sorts after Mickelson found the water while laying up with an iron off the par-5 3rd tee.
While the Mickelson-DeChambeau pairing was one to forget—and it wouldn't be surprising if neither plays again until Sunday's singles—they were hardly the only problem. While winds picked up and temperatures remained cool, conditions that favor the Europeans, the four American teams won a combined three of 36 holes on the front nine while the European teams won 18. The smallest deficit an American team faced at the turn was 2 down, and no team got closer than 1 down at any point on the back nine.
Rose and Stenson improve too 5-2 as a team at the Ryder Cup. It was an impressive response from Rose, who suffered the most biting defeat of the morning session after he found the water with his approach on the 18th hole while playing alongside Rahm.
The win was Garcia's 19th in his Ryder Cup career, putting him in first place in that category in European Ryder Cup history. Garcia has now won 23.5 Ryder Cup points total—only Bernhard Langer (24) and Nick Faldo (25) have won more.
Conversely, the loss was the 21st Phil Mickelson's Ryder Cup career. No American has lost more matches at the biannual competition.
Europe will now carry a boatload of momentum into Saturday morning's fourball session, and the U.S. trails in its attempt to win the Ryder Cup on European soil for the first time in 25 years.