Fleetwood and Molinari the heroes as foursomes whitewash puts Europe in control

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Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari teamed up to win two points from two on a mixed day for Team Europe. Keel Timmins wraps up the Friday action from Le Golf National

What happened on day 1 of the Ryder Cup?

Team Europe went down 3-1 in a tough morning session, but Tommy Fleetwood rescued a point in the last match out to shift the momentum in favour of Thomas Bjorn’s side. The result of the Englishman’s exploits? A commanding afternoon foursomes in which Europe simply demolished the USA to take a 5-3 lead into the weekend at Le Golf National.

The Europeans were staring at a 4-0 loss in the morning, with Justin Rose/Jon Rahm and Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton both defeated on the brutally difficult 18th hole.

When Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen were roundly dispatched by Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 4&2, Europe’s faith rested on the last group out to salvage some hope and get a result from the session.

Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed were two-up on Francesco Molinari and Fleetwood, but the European duo – spearheaded by Fleetwood – won five of the last seven holes to get a point on the board amid jubilant scenes at the Paris links.

And that proved to be a vital point as Europe went into the afternoon foursomes with their tails up.

Rookies Fleetwood

The old band was back together as Henrik Stenson teamed up with Rose to take down Johnson and Fowler 3&2 in the first match out, while Ian Poulter and McIlroy cruised to a 4&2 victory, despite going two-down in the opening three holes.

Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren got off to an incredible start in their match against Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, going seven-up in the opening nine holes. They would eventually go on to win 5&4 after a tame fight-back from the Americans.

And then the morning heroes, Molinari and Fleetwood, saw off the poster-boys of American golf, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas by 5&4 to complete a stunning afternoon for Bjorn’s team.

Friday morning fourballs

Finau/Koepka def. Rose/Rahm 1 up
Johnson/Fowler def. McIlroy/Olesen 4&2
Thomas/Spieth def. Casey/Hatton 1 up
Molinari/Fleetwood def. Woods/Reed 3&1

Europe 1 USA 3

Friday afternoon foursomes

Stenson/Rose def. Johnson/Fowler 3&2
Poulter/McIlroy def. Watson/Simpson 4&2
Garcia/Noren def. Mickelson/DeChambeau 5&4
Molinari/Fleetwood def. Thomas/Spieth 5&4

Europe 5 USA 3

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Afternoon highlights

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Betting update

When yesterday morning’s pairings were announced, the overriding reaction from social media was that the USA had the advantage.

Their four teams were strong and so it proved, as they took an early 3-1 advantage, and it could have so easily been 4-0.

But you have to remember that two of the matches went right down to the final hole, with Europe losing out on both, and then Fleetwood and Molinari saved the session with some putting heroics.

Bjorn’s selections were slightly more surprising, sending out Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen. The former two were perhaps a little unlucky to go down to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, but they have been sent out by the Captain Bjorn on Saturday morning as well – after playing so well on Friday, they will be prepared.

As for Furyk, he’s sent out the exact same pairings for the day two fourballs. It’s a strong line-up, but Europe will be better prepared for the task than the opening day.

With the USA front-loading again, the majority of the morning players will likely be asked to play 36 holes, while Europe will still have the big names like Rose and Stenson to come in.

I think day two will play out fairly similar to Friday, with the US likely to be strong in the morning before Europe excel again in their favoured foursomes.

USA to win the fourballs and Europe to win the foursomes is priced at 9/2, and that looks more than fair.

Predictions

McIlroy/Garcia half with Koepka/Finau

Casey/Hatton def. Johnson/Fowler 2&1

Reed/Woods def. Molinari/Fleetwood 1UP

Thomas/Spieth def. Poulter/Rahm 2&1

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