Ryder Cup Friday morning fourballs round-up: USA 3-1 Europe
Last Updated: 28/09/18 4:30pm
The United States opened up an early 3-1 lead over Europe in the Ryder Cup as they won three of the four fourballs at Le Golf National on Friday morning.
Here is the story of that opening session…..
Dustin Johnson & Rickie Fowler def. Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen 4&2
The USA claimed the first point of the day when Johnson and Fowler - playing together for the first time in the Ryder Cup - defeated the European pair in the second match. McIlroy struggled to find his rhythm and was the only one of the morning players not to register a birdie.
Rookie Olesen found the water with his opening drive, but the Europeans were handed a reprieve when Johnson missed a three-footer for birdie to win the first hole.
The next six holes were halved and Europe actually edged in front when Olesen won the eighth with a par, meaning the hosts were ahead in three of the four matches at the time.
That was as good as it got for the European pair, though, with Olesen finding water again at the ninth as McIlroy toiled in the rough, allowing the USA to level.
Fowler and Johnson were now dialled in and they won three of the next four holes with birdie threes to go three up and McIlroy and Olesen eventually conceded on the par-three 16th after Johnson went close with his tee shot.
"If one of us was out of the hole the other guy picked it up," said Fowler. "We played some solid golf and we knew that was going to be needed against Rory and Thorbjorn.
"They are great ball strikers and we knew it was going to be a tough match."
Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka def. Jon Rahm and Justin Rose 1up
The European duo looked on course for a point when they went two up with six holes to play, but the Americans hit back over the closing holes to snatch the win on the 18th.
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Rose put the first blue of the day on the scoreboards when he birdied the opening hole after hitting his second shot to three feet and they remained ahead for the next four holes before Finau levelled it up in style by chipping in from the edge of the green for an eagle-two at the par-four sixth.
A par from Rose at the seventh was enough to put Europe ahead again and they were two up after the eighth where a fist-pumping Rahm holed a 15-foot birdie putt.
It was Koepka's turn to chip in at the par-three 11th, but Rose responded by holing from the rough for a birdie-three at the 12th, although their celebrations were cut short when Koepka holed from 25 feet for a birdie at the 13th.
The 14th and 15th were halved but a moment of good fortune for Finau enabled the USA to level it at the 16th, the rookie's tee shot bouncing off a wooden sleeper on the edge of the green to within around three feet of the hole for a birdie.
The turnaround was then complete when Koepka won the 18th with a par after Rose had found water with his second shot and Rahm missed from 18 feet after being forced to lay up.
Koepka said: "Rose played unbelievable and got us down early, but you just got to keep fighting and Tony got the lucky break on 16 and then we capitalised on it and I'm proud of him."
Finau said: "I was hoping to get lucky and fortunately I did and that was huge for us to win this match. We ham and egged it pretty well."
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas def. Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton 1up
It was 3-0 to the United States after Spieth and Thomas withstood a fightback from the English pair. Spieth played superbly over the front nine and threes birdie from him at the first, fifth and seventh - where he chipped in - enabled the Americans to establish a three-up lead through 10 holes.
The match then changed dramatically, though, as Casey birdied the 11th and then followed that up with another birdie at the 12th following a superb approach shot to five feet.
Hatton came to the party at the 13th to level the match thanks to a booming drive and another brilliant approach shot to three feet.
But the English duo were unable to maintain the momentum and Thomas made his mark for the first time by birdieing the 15th after an excellent second shot to put the USA back in front and they managed to halve the final three holes for the point.
"It was great," said Spieth. "We had a great start, too. Playing Ryder Cups over here are extremely fun. We were able to feed off each other."
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari def. Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3&1
The European duo managed to stop the rot and secure the first point for the hosts in the fourth and final match, producing a dominant performance on the back nine to come back from two down.
Molinari struck the first blow with a birdie at the first, but Woods hit back thanks to a fine tee shot at the second before Fleetwood replied by birdieing the fourth.
The Americans took control around the turn by winning the seventh, ninth and 10th, where Reed chipped in for a birdie three, to go two up.
Europe hit back immediately as Molinari drained two excellent putts for birdie and Fleetwood then took centre stage on the 15th by draining a birdie putt from the fringe.
Another superb long-range effort from Fleetwood gave him a two at the 16th and Europe were suddenly two up with two to play.
They only needed one more hole, though, as, with Reed and Woods fading, Molinari birdied the 17th from 15 feet to put the first blue on the board.
"We are only halfway through the day," said Fleetwood. "When everyone talks about the Ryder Cup the last few holes and the kind of pressure you feel. You can see the leaderboard and us being together on 15 [all square] - that is the Ryder Cup.
"That was pure class and to have a partner like Fran, I am not going to go on about him... he is amazing."
Molinari added: "We both played very well. We had a couple of moments when we had to reset, start again and get the crowd going a little bit and we need to get some points back this afternoon."