Rónán MacNamara in Rome
Europe 4-0 USA
Rome was a sea of blue on Friday morning as Europe raced into a 4-0 lead as they whitewashed the Americans in the opening foursomes session for the first time in Ryder Cup history in Marco Simone.
Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Åberg, Shane Lowry/Sepp Straka and Rory McIlroy/Tommy Fleetwood all put blue scores on the board to complete a clean sweep for Luke Donald who was rewarded by flipping the format to foursomes, four balls.
None of the four matches went the distance as Rahm and Hatton set the tone with a romping 4&3 win over world number one Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns before Hovland and Swedish rookie Hovland accounted for Max Homa and Brian Harman by the same scoreline.
Lowry and Austrian rookie Straka looked in cruise control in their match against a sluggish Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa when they made the turn in 4UP.
The American pair came rallying back but the Europeans did well to avoid seeing their lead slip to the minimum and stood on the 15th tee 3UP.
Despite losing the sixteenth, a par three on 17 was enough to secure the third point of the morning, Lowry’s first in foursomes.
“It’s early days but I wanted to give Sepp his moment in the Ryder Cup to hole the winning putt. It’s huge. We are off to a great start this morning. We need to keep the foot down. Myself and Sepp gelled well today. Very happy out there with him and enjoyed myself,” said Lowry who will sit out the four ball session in the afternoon.
“You know, we played the same golf, all use the same stuff, so kind of made sense. We were similar-type people but I’m a bit more fiery than him. Sepp is very laid back. We enjoyed it out there, and I feel like we played some good golf.
“Felt like we dodged a few bullets out there, especially 11 and 12, around then, but you know, you’re going to have that in match play. Just have to dig deep and we did. You know, I would have liked to close out the match earlier because we had good chances, but it was nice to put a point on the board for Europe.
“I came here with an open mind this week; I’ll do whatever the captain asks me. He wanted me to go out this morning with Sepp.
“It’s nice to go around with a Rookie and bring him around the place. I think the last few days got the Rookies ready for what today was going to be like. It was amazing.
“It’s my first home Ryder Cup, as well, and obviously last time at Whistling Straits wasn’t the best experience and out there today was just incredible. With the crowd cheering you down every green and every fairway, it’s incredible to have home support.”
Zach Johnson’s beleaguered USA side woke up on the wrong side of the bed on Friday morning and they were never in front in any of the four matches, meaning at no point in the morning was there red on the leaderboards scattered around Marco Simone.
Down in all four matches for the majority of the morning Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele were unable to salvage anything in the anchor match with McIlroy and Fleetwood.
McIlroy launched a dart to the 17th, leaving Fleetwood a two-footer for a winning birdie and a 2&1 win as Fleetwood Mac arrived at the Ryder Cup.
“I’m so proud of this man alongside me. He can play with anyone. I’m just so happy that he’s my partner this week and so happy to get a point on the board for Europe,” McIlroy said of Fleetwood who remains unbeaten in foursomes.
“I have hit a lot of good shots in my time That’s right up there,” McIlroy added about his shot on 17. “I didn’t know how close Patrick had hit his but I just wanted to give Tommy a chance to at least stay 1 UP going down the last. I was pretty certain we weren’t going to go down the last, but if I keep hitting iron shots like that, then I’m going to have a pretty good week.”
It’s been a dream start for Europe because the team that wins the first session in the Ryder Cup goes on to win 60 percent of the time and the team that leads after the first day goes on to win 70 percent of the time.