Europe have won three consecutive Ryder Cups through a mixture of shrewd captaincy, consistently good team chemistry, often stellar play and an uncanny knack of sinking key putts at crucial moments. United States’ Dustin Johnson hits from a bunker on the 12th hole during a practice round for the Ryder Cup golf tournament Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.
CHASKA, Minn. (AP) – Sweep, then nearly swept.
However, a couple of mistakes by Spieth and Reed and two late birdies from their opponents meant Garcia and rookie Cabrera-Bello scrambled a half-a-point that may turn out to be critical on Sunday evening as the USA aim to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat in the biennial team event. They need to win only five of 12 singles matches to reclaim the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008, and only the third time over the last two decades.
“I wouldn’t say it’s simple”. “We didn’t make much change”.
Most striking was how quickly the crowd cheered bad shots for Europe.
“Historically, Europe have probably been stronger in the foursomes and America have always been stronger in the four-balls and that was completely turned on its head”, he said at the conclusion of play Friday.
“I razzed them a little bit and they heard me, which was insane”, Johnson told the crowd. “No worries on my part”, he said with a grin.
“You want to set the tone for rest of the team and when they saw us up early, that’s exactly what we were trying to do, get up early on them, put blue on the board and luckily Darren had a lot of faith in us to send us out first”, McIlroy said, before expressing his delight at finally beating Mickelson.
But after that it was chants of “U-S-A” as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed walked out for the opening match against England’s Rose and British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
Jordan Spieth had landed the first two blows with birdie putts at the second and third to give himself and Patrick Reed a lead they were not to relinquish, but it was the elder of the young Texans who carried the fight for the most part in a game that took an unacceptable four hours to play the 16 holes required and was conducted “on the clock” for nearly the entire back nine.
Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, Europe, def. J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore, United States, 3 and 2.
A fired-up Rory McIlroy led from the front as Europe’s bid for an historic Ryder Cup comeback gathered momentum at Hazeltine.
The lone American point in the afternoon came from Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka, who had no trouble against Kaymer and Danny Willett. He will be back on the course with Fowler for foursomes on Saturday morning, facing McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. “Lee’s a standup man and he didn’t have any reservations about telling me the truth, as indeed would any member of my team”, Clarke said.
“I closed my eyes, swallowed my puke, and hit the putt”. “And a lot of the players on the European team. know what the experience is like and what to do”. Clarke chose to use only two of them in the opening session.
Snedeker and Koepka completed a 3&2 victory over Stenson and Fitzpatrick after the latter’s approach to the 16th was pulled into the water, restoring the home side’s two-point lead.
Captain Clarke said: “Wow”. They showed a massive amount of desire and fight. They lost a chance to really put Europe in a hole.
“It helps me take the mind away from golf”, Cabrera-Bello said.
The Rose-Stenson and Spieth-Reed pairings went unbeaten in 2014 at Gleneagles and each was slotted into the opening spot for their teams.