Ryder Cup: Europe's history boys get back down to business
European captain Thomas Bjorn gave his players only an hour to savour becoming history-makers in the Ryder Cup before getting their mind back on the job in France.
The home side led 5-3 at the end of the opening day at Le Golf National after bouncing back from a 3-1 defeat in the fourballs to record Europe’s first 4-0 whitewash in the foursomes.
Bjorn was delighted with his team’s performance against a star-studded US side but refused to get carried away with three more sessions still to come in the Paris suburbs.
Referring to the historic clean sweep by his players, he added: “That is something that is pretty special to all those players that are out on that golf course. We experienced it against us in Hazeltine the first morning, and that’s not a nice thing.
“But today we got those crowds behind us. We got them going. They started believing, and then they went through the whole golf course, and then it seemed like nothing could go wrong.
“That was kind of the feeling that you got through the day and through the afternoon, and we hold putts; the Americans missed putts, and that’s kind of where it all went this afternoon.
“But the players are also very well aware that you can enjoy this for about an hour, and then you turn around to tomorrow and you start focusing on what’s ahead of us. We know it’s a marathon.”
Open champion Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, last year’s Race to Dubai winner, spared Europe from a second successive whitewash in the opening session as they beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3&2. But it was one-way traffic in the afternoon as the Europeans got up early on in all four matches and never really took their foot of the necks of their opponents.
“We’re delighted with the way the day turned out, because it was a fairly tough morning. Yeah, we’re happy. We go home happy tonight, but we refocus and look forward to tomorrow,” added Bjorn. “I’ve been around long enough to know that tomorrow morning it could be completely different again.”
Jim Furyk, the US captain, admitted it had been a sore afternoon for his side but is confident that a first victory on European soil since 1993 is still a possibility.
“The European side played very good golf this afternoon,” acknowledged Furyk. “I mean, my hat’s off to them. Every one of their matches was even par to under par on a pretty difficult set up in difficult conditions where the wind was blowing 20 miles an hour.
“I realise our guys aren’t happy about the way they played, but we have to look at the fact that they did play really well. Don’t take anything away from the Europeans. They played a great session of golf from top to bottom had some great ball-strikers out there. But we have played for eight points so far out of 28. The event’s still pretty young.”
Concurring, Phil Mickelson added: “They played phenomenal golf, we just didn’t play well this afternoon. I’m not taking anything away from them, but we weren’t at our best. We’ve played for just eight points. There’s a lot of golf left. We just need to bring our best stuff. And we will.”
Friday’s results: Fourballs: Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen lost 4&2 to Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler; Justin Rose and Jon Rahm lost by 1 hole to Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau; Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton lost by 1 hole to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas; Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood won 3&1 against Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods. Foursomes: Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose beat Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 3&2; Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 4&2; Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren beat Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau 5&4; Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood beat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 5&4.
Saturday morning fourballs: 7.10 Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia v Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau; 7.25 Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton v Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler; 7.40 Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood v Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed; 7.55 Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm v Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.