By Thomas Dodd
- United States win all four opening matches against Europe in 2016 Ryder Cup
- First opening session US whitewash since 1975, when States were captained by Arnold Palmer
- Europe staring big opening day deficit in the face ahead of afternoon Fourballs.
HAZELTINE NATIONAL, MINNESOTA, AMERICA- The United States got their efforts to regain the Ryder Cup from Europe underway in perfect fashion by winning all four foursomes matches on Friday morning.
The scoreboard was a sea of red at the end of the opening matches as the home side ran riot in the final hour of play on the back nine.
Europe’s Justin Rose hit the opening tee shot at 7.35am in his match with Henrik Stenson, but from the moment the pair – who went undefeated two years ago at Gleneagles – went one down to Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed on the second, they never looked like turning the tide the direction of blue.
Two early birdies coupled with very few errors in the middle part of the round were enough to see the young duo over the line 3&2 to put the first point on the board, to the delight of the cacophonous home galleries.
Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson added the second point minutes later, comfortably defeating Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters 5&4.
Westwood, sent out to support his rookie partner Pieters, never got going and often found himself relying on the young Belgian just to stay in the hole.
Johnson’s long game coupled with Kuchar’s wedge play turned out to be as devastating as Captain Davis Love III had hoped, and a birdie at 14 was enough to secure the match.
For much of the day it looked as though Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer in the third match would provide some respite for the Europeans, and the experienced continental pairing headed into the back nine one up.
But Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson, one of the shortest hitters on Tour, fought back thereafter and won five straight holes starting at the 12th to close out the match 4&2.
Both teams started nervously by bogeying the first, but the tense start was all forgotten by the time Johnson rolled in a lengthy birdie putt on the par-five 16th to stretch the US lead to three and heap more misery on Darren Clarke’s visiting side.
The day’s second match off provided the most drama, and was the only match to go beyond the 16th green.
Phil Mickelson, who did not find a fairway all day, and Rickie Fowler ground out a hard-fought 1up win over Rory McIlroy and debutant Andy Sullivan, who played his part in a topsy-turvy match of the highest quality.
Europe looked to have one hand on a point when McIlroy made two consecutive birdies at 13 and 14, but the home side’s marquee pairing dug deep to win three straight holes before parring the last to complete a whitewash for the United States.
The players had a quick turn round before the start of the afternoon fourballs, which will see all four players play the hole individually before taking the best score from each team.
The result marked the first time since 1975 that the US had taken all four points from the opening Friday session, when the late great Arnold Palmer was the captain.
In memory of one of Golf’s most iconic players, Palmer’s bag from his last Ryder Cup appearance remained on the first tee box as all matches teed off.
Friday Morning Foursomes Results:
Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed def. Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose 3&2
Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler def. Rory McIlroy/Andy Sullivan 1up
Jimmy Walker/Zach Johnson def. Martin Kaymer/Sergio Garcia 4&2
Matt Kuchar/Dustin Johnson def. Lee Westwood/Thomas Pieters 5&4
41st Ryder Cup:
United States 4
With Friday’s Fourballs underway, Saturday’s tee-time starts at 7:35am (1:35pm).
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