Ryder Cup: Day 1 FourballsJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia fell to Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley as the United States took a 2½-1½ lead in the first session of the first day of the Ryder Cup.
Europe’s Justin Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson successfully combated the American duo of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Europe’s Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher were defeated by USA rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
The final European Fourballs pairing of Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer shared half a point with the USA’s Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.
Although pundits were predicting at least a 2-2 if not a 3-1 the scoreline after this morning’s session tells us little about how the rest of the competition will turn out. Europe have not led after the first session of the Ryder Cup since 2006, despite winning the last three overall.
“This whole early morning was pretty much an ebb from the US standpoint, and then we got some flow going,” said Tom Watson, the USA Ryder Cup team captain.
“Fortunately we’re a couple of paces ahead at the moment but it’s a marathon.”
McIlroy and Garcia were pitted as the pairing to beat in this year’s Ryder Cup but American duo Michelson and Bradley managed to outplay them, continuing their undefeated record from the three matches they played together two years ago.
One of the highlights of the day was Garcia’s spectacular bunker shot on the fourth which took Europe into an early lead.
Mickelson later managed to edge the US in front however with a birdie at the par-five ninth hole. Bradley followed this up with a birdie on the next hole and McIlroy faltered to extend the gap between them by missing from six feet.
Although the Europeans managed to level the scores on the 13th, Bradley all but won the point after a stunning eagle on the 16th.
“We didn’t have our best stuff, it was tough conditions,” said Mickelson. “The eagle that Keegan made on 16 was huge because it gave us huge momentum coming down the stretch.”
Elsewhere Rose and Stenson sealed Europe’s first point of the day with a series of birdies on the second, fourth ninth and 14th holes.
Veteran Poulter was paired with Ryder Cup debutant Gallacher against two of USA’s rookies Spieth and Reed, so it came as a shock when the two debutants took the lead with five birdies, eventually beating the Europeans.
“It was very quiet around our group and that was what we had to do today,” said Spieth. “I don’t know if we were originally going to go out together when we arrived this week but we managed to convince the captain and it means a lot that he has that trust in us.”
The second match of the day saw Bjorn and Kaymer race to a three-hole lead after four but the Americans quickly inched their way back with a birdie at the fifth and a stunning eagle from Walker at the ninth.
In the closest game of the morning the teams were neck and neck as Bjorn secured the half with a birdie putt on the 18th.
“There’s a sense of disappointment when you’re two up with two to play but it was a pretty even match and we have to take it on the chin,” said the Swede. “We played good early on and not so good in the middle.”
More fourballs take place tomorrow with Europe looking to finish in front overall after the morning session.