What happened on Day 1: Europe roars back in the afternoon

Rory McIlroy and Europe quieted Team USA with a 4-0 afternoon session. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

PARIS -- The United States started strong and looked every bit the favorites. Then the afternoon happened.

For the first time since 1989, the European Ryder Cup team swept an entire session 4-0 when it claimed all of the matches Friday afternoon at Le Golf National. After falling behind 3-1 in the morning, the Europeans took a 5-3 lead after Day 1. Only twice since Europe was added to the Ryder Cup in 1979 has the team swept a session -- both times in the four-ball format in the afternoon on Day 1.This time it was also Day 1 in the afternoon, but foursomes.

Bob Harig, ESPN Senior Writer4y ago


First session: Four-ball

Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler def. Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen 4 and 2

How it happened: Even though McIlroy was struggling nearly from the moment he stepped on the golf course, the U.S. side could not take advantage at the start. Johnson and Fowler even walked to the ninth tee 1 down despite McIlroy spraying the ball all over Le Golf National and a shaky open from Olesen, playing in his first Ryder Cup. Then Fowler rolled in birdies at No. 9 and No. 10. Johnson followed with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 12 and 13. Just like that, it was over, with McIlroy and Olesen unable to draw near as the U.S. grabbed the first point of the event.

While the Rickie Fowler/Dustin Johnson duo may look dominating, Rory McIlroy didn't help his partner, Ryder Cup rookie Thorbjørn Olesen at all.

Michael Collins, ESPN Senior Writer4y ago

First points of the week go to Dustin Johnson-Rickie Fowler who beat the McIlroy-Olesen partnership. McIlroy is the only player on the course this morning without a birdie as the U.S. take a 1-0 lead.

Tom Hamilton, Senior Writer4y ago

Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau def. Justin Rose/Jon Rahm 1 up

How it happened: Rose and Rahm seemed to be in control. The pair did not trail ... until they walked off the 18th green. Finau used a huge break at No. 16, when his tee shot at the par 3 hit the railroad ties. Instead of the ball splashing into the water, it kicked straight forward and settled 4 feet from the hole for a birdie that squared the match. At 18, Rahm found trouble off the tee, and Rose's second shot found the water. Somehow, despite struggling throughout the day, Finau and Koepka walked away with a full point.

Brooks Koepka on his and Tony Finau's last gasp victory over Justin Rose and Jon Rahm: "You gotta keep fighting and we did. I'm proud of Tony." Finau on his good fortune at the 16th: "I said get lucky and fortunately it did. We ham and egged it pretty well."

Matt Cooper, Special to ESPN.com4y ago

Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas def. Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton 1 up

How it happened: Spieth watched last week's Tour Championship after not qualifying for it. His game clearly wasn't where he needed it, where he expected it. It took one hole at the Ryder Cup for it to become clear things had changed. Spieth nearly holed out his second shot at the first and birdied five of his first seven holes. And when Justin Thomas birdied No. 9, the pair were 6 under on the front side. But this wasn't easy, because Casey and Hatton charged back and actually evened the match heading to the 15th tee. But Thomas' birdie on 15 gave the U.S. the lead and eventually another full point.

Any questions about if Jordan Spieth can get it together in time to be a big factor in this Ryder Cup should be over. He put on a show at the beginning of his win with Justin Thomas.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com4y ago

Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood def. Tiger Woods/Patrick Reed 3 and 1

How it happened: Tommy Fleetwood got hot when Europe needed it. Two enormous putts by Fleetwood -- for par at No. 15 and birdie at No. 16 -- kept the U.S. from pulling off a morning sweep. Woods was up and down throughout his round. Aside from a chip-in at No. 10, Reed never found his game in an odd match in which the European crowd booed Reed but cheered Woods.

Tommy Fleetwood on his debut: "That feeling on 15 and 16, that is the Ryder Cup. That was just pure class. There's nothing like it." Partner Francesco Molinari: "I love him. I love Tommy. We needed that. We need more points this afternoon."

Matt Cooper, Special to ESPN.com4y ago

Second session: Foursomes

Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose def. Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler 3 and 2

How it happened: Johnson and Fowler started slow in their morning match. In that one, they turned things around. Not this time. After the first four holes were halved, Stenson and Rose got hot, rattling off three consecutive birdies to win three straight holes to go 3 up. Johnson and Fowler never got closer than that.

The Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson European combo improved to 5-2 as a team at the Ryder Cup with their 3&2 victory in foursomes over Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. They never trailed in the match and were 5-up through 11 holes. Rose and Stenson, who finished 1-2 at the 2016 Olympic golf tournament, also improved 2-1 in foursomes.

Bob Harig, ESPN Senior Writer4y ago

Justin Rose speaking after he and Henrik Stenson completed their 3 and 2 defeat of Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson: "We have great vibes in this event and before we teed off Rory told me to give something for him and Poults to chase." Stenson: "It's just a joy to be out there. What an atmosphere."

Matt Cooper, Special to ESPN.com4y ago

Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter def. Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson 4 and 2

How it happened: The 13th hole symbolized the afternoon for the Europeans. Poulter's tee shot somehow avoids going in the water. McIlroy, with a terrible stance, finds a way to slash it out and get it on the green. The U.S. also has a birdie putt of the same length, but Watson misses and Poulter makes and pounds his chest in triumph. That was how the foursome matches went for the U.S. and Europe.

Ian Poulter on Europe's Friday afternoon fourball fight back: "The buzz around the golf course is amazing and the boards are looking so strong this afternoon. We've done what we do best: We've been resilient."

Matt Cooper, Special to ESPN.com4y ago

Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren def. Phil Mickelson/Bryson DeChambeau 5 and 4

How it happened: This was never close. Not once. Phil Mickelson was a disaster. It was so bad he hit iron off a tee at the par-5 third hole -- and hit that iron in the water. Making matters even worse for the Americans, Garcia and Noren birdied seven of the first nine holes. This was over before they got to the back nine.

The afternoon session was a bloodletting. Brilliant moves by European Team Captain Thomas Bjorn in his afternoon pairings.

Michael Collins, ESPN Senior Writer4y ago

Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood def. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas 5 and 4

How it happened: Molinari and Fleetwood continued the momentum they had down the stretch in the morning, when they dismissed Woods and Reed, with a fast start against Spieth and Thomas. They built a 3 up lead through seven holes and then played solid golf as Spieth and Thomas made mistake after mistake. Twice they turned legitimate chances to win the hole into losses -- once at the sixth and again at the 10th -- and things never improved.

Ian Poulter on Europe's Friday afternoon fourball fight back: "The buzz around the golf course is amazing and the boards are looking so strong this afternoon. We've done what we do best: We've been resilient."

Matt Cooper, Special to ESPN.com4y ago