Tommy Fleetwood and maintained their 100 per cent record and condemned Tiger Woods to another defeat as Europe extended their lead in the 42nd Ryder Cup.
Fresh from overturning an early 3-1 deficit by winning a foursomes session 4-0 for the first time in the contest’s history, the home side came out firing on the second day at Le Golf National in Paris.
Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia survived a nervy finish to lead from the front and beat Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, before Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton were a combined nine under par in a 3&2 victory over world number one Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
Fleetwood and Molinari, whose win over Woods and Reed was the only European success on Friday morning, then repeated the feat in style on the back of three consecutive birdies from the 11th from Open champion Molinari after Woods had somehow dragged the match back to all square.
McIlroy, who had not made a single birdie in Friday morning’s fourballs, recorded four of them in the first eight holes, including crucially holing from 15 feet for a half on the fifth after Finau had holed his bunker shot.
Garcia’s birdie on the 11th forced Finau into missing from much closer for a half and the European pair were in complete command before Koepka birdied the 14th and both Garcia and McIlroy dumped their approaches in the water on the 15th.
Finau’s birdie on the 16th raised the possibility of a stunning reversal but Garcia birdied the 17th to seal a vital win.
“Four up and five to play you are thinking get this over and done with and to be going up 17 is not what you want, but we tried to make best of the situation and that three from Sergio is so clutch,” McIlroy said.
“We loved coming out here and the fire and passion he has is infectious and it rubs off on me pretty well.”
Casey and Hatton had been eight under par in losing to Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth on day one but went one better to deservedly get a point on the board, Casey making five birdies in the first six holes and Hatton getting in on the act on the seventh, eighth and 13th.
“It’s amazing, almost lost for words,” Hatton said. “It’s such a special moment. To be here is an honour and to win a point for the team is very special. It was a Casey express train the front nine; I was just trying to help out when I could.”
The only match which went against the home side saw Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas beat Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm 2&1, despite the European pair being seven under par.
However, the eight matches won in a row was the most by any side since the current format was introduced in 1979 and gave Europe an 8-4 lead heading into the afternoon foursomes.
Unsurprisingly European captain Thomas Bjorn kept faith with the pairs responsible for Friday’s historic whitewash, while opposite number Jim Furyk left Phil Mickelson on the bench and gambled on a tired-looking Woods by pairing him with Bryson DeChambeau.
Rory McIlroy insists persistence was the key to his – and Europe’s – Ryder Cup turnaround on the opening day at Le Golf National.
The four-time major winner, playing alongside rookie Thorbjorn Olesen, was the only player in the morning fourballs not to register a birdie as the hosts slipped to a 3-1 deficit.
But the turnaround was remarkable in the afternoon with Europe taking an early advantage in three of the fourball matches with McIlroy and new partner Ian Poulter finally getting going six holes in when the Northern Irishman found a birdie.
They went on to beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 4&2 as Europe closed 5-3 up.
“I think a big thing for us this week is resilience, but also persistence,” said McIlroy.
“You have to persist. Persist, persist, persist, until it turns around for you and this morning wasn’t ideal but it was still a better start than the one we got off to at Hazeltine (losing the morning session 4-0).
“It was an incredible afternoon for Europe, one we haven’t really had since Gleneagles I guess.
“There was a couple of times where we threatened to have a great session in Hazeltine that didn’t really materialise so to see all the blue on the board in the afternoon is awesome.”
McIlroy revealed captain Thomas Bjorn made a late call to pair the two Ryder Cup veterans together for the foursomes but his decision paid off.
“The guys had a discussion earlier in the week and it was sort of a little bit of a last-minute thing that Poults and I would go together,” the 29-year-old added.
“You know, we played well together at Medinah. We played well together at Gleneagles.
“It was nice to get back out there with them and deliver another point for Europe.”
It was a rallying call from McIlroy during the brief interval which set the tone, with Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson first out and racing to five up through 11 holes.
“He said to me ‘Come on, put some blue on the board, give me something to chase or give me and Poulter something to chase’,” said Rose, who lost his morning fourballs alongside Jon Rahm to Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka.
Stars of the day were Open champion Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, who beat the USA’s premier pairing in both sessions.
They dispatched Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3&1 before returning to smash Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 5&4.
“We enjoy playing together and obviously spending time together. He’s played amazing this morning and this afternoon,” said the Italian.
“I think we just combine really well.”
Woods looked a long way from replicating the form which saw him record his first victory in five years at Sunday’s Tour Championship amid suggestions he was struggling with back problems.
The 14-time major winner has battled back to fitness following spinal fusion surgery but the 42-year-old dismissed concerns about his health.
“I’ll be ready come tomorrow whenever the captain puts me out,” said the former world number one, who will in fact be playing fourballs with Reed against Molinari and Fleetwood again.
“I’m not going to work on anything. My game is fine. I was hammering it, the ball was going far, it was going straight, but it was not cutting.
“I can accept that, that’s really no big deal. My putting feels solid.”
America’s other veteran Phil Mickelson was surprisingly put out in foursomes alongside Bryson DeChambeau despite the 48-year-old struggling for form recently and they were thrashed 5&4 by Sergio Garcia and rookie Alex Noren, who at one point were seven up through nine holes.
“We played poorly on the front nine but they shot four-under. It was just some very impressive golf, and we just didn’t keep up,” said the left-hander.
“Even if we had played really well, it would have been tough to hang with them.
“But we’ve just got to regroup and come out sharp. We’ve got to come out and bring our best stuff.
“We know it’s going to be a fight until the end, and we’ve got a lot of points left.
“We’ve only played eight points so far, and we just need to bring our best stuff and we will.”
Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed will renew their rivalry with Europe’s star Ryder Cup pairing Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari in Saturday’s morning fourballs as the United States look to recover from a 5-3 deficit.
The Americans swept the first three matches in Friday’s fourballs before Fleetwood and Molinari fought back to defeat Woods and Reed 3 and 1 to put Europe on the board at Le Golf National.
Thomas Bjorn’s hosts then secured a whitewash in the foursomes for the first time in team history to turn the competition on its head.
Here are the tee times and pairings for Saturday’s matches.
08:10 (10:10 UAE time): Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia (Europe) v Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau (USA)
08:25 (10:25 UAE time): Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) v Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (USA)
08:40 (10:40 UAE time): Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) v Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods (USA)
08:55 (10:55 UAE time): Ian Poulter/Jon Rahm (Europe) v Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (USA)
From 13:50 (16:50 UAE time): Four foursomes (alternate shot) matches