Well who saw that coming at teatime?
The opening day of the Ryder Cup was the clichéd game of two halves as the Americans shot out of the blocks and then plucky Europe dug their heels in to trail just 5-3 at the end of the first day.
All but two of the players were in action and we were beady-eyed assessing who did well and who buckled under the pressure.
So let’s get straight in for our opening day power ratings.
Henrik Stenson 8/10
Cometh the hour, cometh the Iceman. It was all looking a bit desperate (wasn’t it?) until the Open champion got fed up of watching Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed holing putts from all over the place. His response was the catalyst for the European revival.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello 8/10
I am getting goosebumps. Is this the start of a beautiful partnership? It was like Seve and Olly all over again watching Rafa Cabera-Bello dovetail with Sergio Garcia.
Thomas Pieters – 7/10
The Belgian looked like he’d just seen the new Blair Witch film on the first tee and was utterly hung out to dry by Westwood in the foursomes. Total contrast with McIlroy, in the afternoon, when he was brilliant.
Rory McIlroy – 7/10
Let a 2 up lead go with 4 to play in the foursomes and posted three bogeys in the fourballs. But then he hit a magical second shot at the 16th late on and holed the putt to secure the third point. It’s what’s required if the Northern Irishman is truly to be Europe’s talisman.
Sergio Garcia – 6/10
If he could putt just occasionally like he did for Europe in the fourballs, he’d probably have another 10 trophies on his mantelpiece. Partnership with Rafa looks very exciting but they’ll need to do it in foursomes as well.
Justin Rose – 6/10
Apparently, he’s been working on setting the putter off on the right line. Judging by day one’s performance, he needs a protractor. Couldn’t buy a putt until right at the end. Lucky to be a passenger as Stenson ripped round Hazeltine in the afternoon.
Andy Sullivan – 5/10
Cheeky chappie Andy had the moves and the fist pumps early on. But then he dunked his tee shot into the drink at 17. It’s a bit different down the stretch in a Ryder Cup, isn’t it?
Danny Willett – 5/10
Holed a couple of bombs and largely held up his end of the bargain having had to wait for his Ryder Cup debut for Europe. Little he could do on his own against an American duo who were a combined seven under.
Chris Wood – 4/10
Is he still stuck behind that pillar? Maybe Clarke has sent out a search party. The giant has had the quietest of Ryder Cups so why should the first day of action be any different?
Matt Fitzpatrick 4/10
Was reportedly quoted as saying ‘prepare to play five times, expect to play once’. Given the fourballs turnaround, he might just get his wish.
Martin Kaymer 3/10
I hope he likes parking his backside, because a seat in the stands is all he can expect tomorrow. Couldn’t halt turnaround with Garcia in foursomes and then gave Willett no assistance at all in the fourballs. Get on the range and get ready for the singles.
Lee Westwood 3/10
Took the ‘wild’ in wildcard too literally in the foursomes. Missed a couple of tiddlers and hit a drive so deep into a lake, you’d have got the bends trying to retrieve it. Not a friendship-ender, but Lee owes captain Clarke big time.
Darren Clarke 6/10
Looked bewildered when asked to explain Europe’s foursomes calamity but introduction of Rafa Cabrera-Bello and sticking with Thomas Pieters helped save his bacon. Europe live to fight another day.
Rickie Fowler – 8/10
Looks like he wouldn’t bat an eyelid during an earthquake but that masks some serious steel. Pulled Mickelson, who was putting his drives in back yards, up by his bootstraps and drove them on to an unlikely foursomes win.
Brooks Koepka – 8/10
Made Hazeltine look like a par 3 course. Short iron from 215 yards? He’s playing a different game to most of his teammates, never mind the rest of us. Will surely appear in tomorrow’s fourballs with Brandt Snedeker again.
Patrick Reed – 7/10
Postman Pat was delivering heartache in the morning with some insane golf and, with three birdies in the first five holes in the afternoon, he looked set with Jordan Spieth to mail another point for the USA. But he was becalmed in the face of Stenson’s brilliance. Pressure, it’s a funny thing…
Brandt Snedeker – 7/10
Unheralded, never fancied, but there’s a lot to be said in Ryder Cups for a guy who can putt. And Sneds is wonderful on the dancefloor. Koepka bashed it all round the course, but Brandt got the birdies.
Jimmy Walker – 7/10
I have a theory that Jimmy is actually a robot and Davis Love III forgot to turn him on until the 12th hole. How else can you explain his foursomes back 9 surge against Garcia and Kaymer? Jekyll and Hyde doesn’t come close.
Zach Johnson – 7/10
He’s not long, he’s not flashy. He looks more like an accountant than a golfer. But he’s a demon in foursomes and delivered the point Love hoped he would.
Jordan Spieth – 6/10
I’d bet my life on Jordan holing a putt to save me. I’d run as fast as my legs could carry me if he had a wood or an iron in his hands. As brilliant as he is with the flat-stick, it’s painful to watch his long game. It’s a measure of just how good he is that he was irresistible with Reed in the foursomes.
Phil Mickelson – 6/10
Roll up for the Magical Mickelson Mystery Tour. He can’t keep his drives in the state of Minnesota but Lefty, or should we call him Righty, then hit an arrow of a wedge at 16 as he and Fowler bulldozed McIlroy and Sullivan. That’s what he does and it’s exciting to watch.
Dustin Johnson – 6/10
Got a good win in the morning, hence the power rating, but I can’t shake the feeling that was as much to do with Westwood’s terrible play as anything DJ did. Late comeback in the fourballs shouldn’t mask a general feeling of afternoon mediocrity.
Matt Kuchar – 6/10
What the hell happened? Kuchar’s partnership with Johnson looked like a match made in heaven in the foursomes. Then Matt hardly got on the card in the afternoon as Pieters and McIlroy doled out a bashing. Maybe he’s just a morning person.
Ryan Moore – 4/10
I hope he’s not rooming with Bubba Watson. The guy who relegated the world number 7 to a vice-captain’s berth reportedly didn’t play in the foursomes because he was ‘tired’. He still looked like he was half-asleep before a couple of late bombs in the foursomes.
JB Holmes – 3/10
So that’s what defeat tastes like. JB’s big hitting, so brutal at Valhalla, counted for nothing against the super Spaniards and brought the Kentuckian his first Ryder Cup loss. With only one birdie to show for his round, he’ll need to do much better tomorrow.
Davis Love III – 6/10
What must he be thinking now? It was all going so swimmingly. Then he tinkered, continuing his theme of getting all his players out on the first day, and his side will be disappointed to only have a two point lead.