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  • Europe has now won eight of the last nine matches and has seized firm control of the Ryder Cup heading into Saturday afternoon foursomes.
By Daniel Rapaport
September 29, 2018

Not everyone can stay up through the night to watch every minute of the Ryder Cup action. 

That's why we're here. 

Unfortunately (for American fans), the Europeans' momentum built from a 4-0 sweep of Friday afternoon foursomes continued into the Saturday morning fourball session. Europe got a bunch of blue on the board early and controlled three of the four matches for virtually the entire morning, ultimately winning the session 3-1 to take a commanding 8-4 lead heading into Saturday afternoon foursomes. 

The Europeans have now won eight of the last nine matches at this Ryder Cup after trailing 3-0.

Here's how it all went down. 

Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia def. Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau, 3 and 1

There was much debate leading up to this week about European captain Thomas Bjorn's decision to use a captain's pick on Sergio Garcia, who is a Ryder Cup legend but has not played well this season. Garcia is making his captain look like a genius. This event seems to always bring out the kid in El Nino, and he's played some of his best golf since the 2017 Masters at Le Golf National. He's been solid tee to green and has found a way to make clutch putt after clutch putt. 

Garcia sat out the Friday morning fourball session but won alongside Alex Noren in the afternoon foursomes, so it's no suprise Bjorn deployed him again this morning. The Spaniard birdied 3 and 4 to give Europe a 2 up lead, and McIlroy—who struggled Friday morning but seemed to be brought back to life by Ian Poulter in the afternoon—added birdies of his own at 6 and 8 to give Europe firm control of the match. 

Finau would birdie 9 to cut the deficit to 3 up at the turn, but another Sergio birdie at 11 pushed it back to 4. He was pumped up after that one.

The U.S. would win 14 and 15, the latter of which came thanks to both Europeans finding the water, to give the U.S. some momentum. Remember, this was the team that came back to beat Justin Rose and Jon Rahm yesterday. Then Finau dropped a 30-footer for birdie at 16 to cut the deficit to just 1-up, and suddenly the Americans had a real chance to steal something from this match. 

Enter Sergio. After McIlroy holed a long par effort, Garcia holed a downhill 30 footer for birdie to force Koepka to make it to extend the match. He couldn't, and Europe earned the first point of the morning session. 

Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton def. Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler, 3 and 2

This would appear to be the biggest mismatch on paper—in the Americans' favor, that is—but Paul Casey had other ideas. The 41-year-old Englishman, who himself was a captain's pick, has been fantastic thus far. He made foour straight birdies from 4-8, to flip the an all square match into 3 up European advantage, one they'd hold at the turn. While Casey and Hatton were making all the important putts, both Fowler and Johnson struggled significantly on the greens.

Johnson, who switched to a cross-handed grip for the first time in his life at last week's Tour Championship, has looked generally shaky with the putter in his hands all week, though he did hole some on the back nine. 

The Americans got one back with a Johnson birdie at 11. 

But Fowler would miss a birdie putt to have the the 14th hole and the Americans found themselves in the unenviable position of 3 down with 4 to play. After Fowler found the water on the par-4 15th and Johnson was just off the green in 3, it looked like the match might end right then and there, but Johnson found a way to hole his chip shoot to keep a glimmer of hope alive. 

The hope would be extinguished on the next hole, as a par was good enough for the 3 and 2 victory.

Tommy Fleetwood/Francesco Molinari def. Tiger Woods/Patrick Reed, 4 and 3

Many (myself included) thought Fleetwood could be a breakout star at this Ryder Cup. How right that's turned out to be. He and Molinari, who has been solid as a rock, have formed Europe's strongest duo and are the only players to have 3 points at this Ryder Cup. 

On the other end of the spectrum is Patrick Reed, whose tremendous Ryder Cup play in 2014 and 2016 earned him the nickname Captain America. Reed has been a massive disappointment this time around—he didn't help Tiger much yesterday, when they lost to this same team, and today he was just awful. He didn't make his first (and only) birdie of the day until 9, hit multiple shots way off line including out of bounds and had none of the cocky swagger he displayed at Hazeltine. 

Tiger was better but not by much. They were 2 down after 3 but did fight back to get to all square after 10 thanks to two birdies from Tiger.

 

That seemed to irk the Europeans, because they would win the next three holes with birdies, the most impressive of which came from Molinari on the par-3 11th. 

Reed and Woods never looked like they had any real chance to get back in this match, and it mercifully ended at the par-4 15th after Reed found the water. This one was never close. 

Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth def. Jon Rahm/Ian Poulter, 2 and 1

This was the lone match in which the Americans didn't find themselves playing catch up all day. Thomas and Spieth, the latter of whom has been the Americans' best player at this Ryder Cup, took a 1 up lead with a birdie at 2 but found themselves down 1 after 7.

At that point, Europe was leading in every match and a previously unimaginable second-straight session sweep seemed distinctly possible. Poulter was holing putts, Rahm was pumped up and the Americans generally looked like deer in the headlights. 

Spieth and Thomas would win three of the next five to get to 2 up with some precise ball striking, and they seemed to be the only American duo feeding off each other. This Spieth birdie at 11 was massive for momentum. 

Rahm would get one back after sticking one to three feet at 13, and after Rahm made another birdie at 14 Thomas matched him and gestured to the crowd. 

Thomas again came up with the goods on 16. After Poulter stuck one to four feet on the par 3, Thomas knocked one inside him. And after Poulter hearted his putt, Thomas snuck one in the left side to keep the U.S. advantage at 1 up. 

Thomas stepped up yet again at 17, pumping a driver down the fairway and sticking his approoach to seven feet. That gave him a birdie putt to give the U.S. its first point since Friday morning. He buried it. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)