Europe rallies in Ryder Cup after US sweeps opening foursomes
Europe storms back in afternoon play to end the day trailing 5-3
Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson inspired a bold fightback by holders Europe in Friday afternoon’s fourball matches before the United States ended a gripping first day at the Ryder Cup with a 5-3 lead.
Badly bruised after being swept 4-0 by the Americans in the morning’s foursomes at Hazeltine National, the Europeans showed great strength of character as they won the second session 3-1 with some sparkling golf in dazzling afternoon sunshine.
England’s Olympic champion Rose and British Open winner Stenson, who went 3-0 together at Gleneagles two years ago, set the tone at the top of the order with a commanding 5&4 victory over American young guns Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
The United States swept Europe 4-0 in the opening alternate shot foursomes matches, only the third time the US squad has whitewashed their European rivals in the first session.
Phil Micklelson and Rickie Fowler won three of the last four holes to claim a 1-up victory over world number three Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and England’s Andy Sullivan in the biggest late switch of the morning.
PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and two-time major champion Zach Johnson were trailing for 10 holes in a row but captured the final five in a 4-and-2 comeback triumph over Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Germany’s Martin Kaymer.
“They certainly are tough to beat but Henrik and I did what we do best, we stuck in there ... and made a bunch of birdies,” Rose told reporters.
“We didn’t really put a foot wrong tee-to-green this morning, but we didn’t make any putts. This afternoon, brilliant. We obviously got running and dovetailed really well.”
Spaniards Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello held off late resistance from JB Holmes and Ryan Moore to win 3&2 before Northern Ireland’s McIlroy and Cup rookie Thomas Pieters of Belgium beat Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3&2.
McIlroy ended the match in champion style after the Americans had come from four down after 10 holes to trail by just two, sinking a 20-foot eagle putt at the par-five 16th before bowing to the crowd.
The only red number for the US in the afternoon came from putting maestro Brandt Snedeker and Cup rookie Brooks Koepka, who crushed Kaymer and Masters champion Danny Willett of England 5&4.
“My job today was to come out and make putts, and just let Brooks do what he does,” said Snedeker. “Brooks played fantastic. It was an awesome win for us. We needed it and we’re going to build on this thing going forward.”
Watched by massive and largely partisan galleries at ultra-long Hazeltine, Rose and Stenson came from one down after three holes to take control n a match of high quality to turn the tide for Europe.
On a chilly and overcast morning, the US had completed their first sweep in an opening session since 1975 at Laurel Valley, putting pressure on the Europeans on Friday afternoon.
Europe have won eight of the past 10 Ryder Cups, but face a challenging task to retain the trophy with the US having lost at home only four times since the matches began in 1927.