Team USA hold early lead over Team Europe in day one Ryder Cup fourballs

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Advantage Team USA early on.

Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen lost 4&2 to Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler

The concerns over McIlroy’s form coming into the event proved not to be without foundation as the Northern Irishman was the only man of all the morning players not to register a birdie. His wedge play and putting was never up to scratch and that placed a lot of pressure on rookie Olesen, who drove his opening tee shot into the water. They were lucky Johnson missed a three-footer to win the hole. Europe made the first move when Olesen won the short eighth with a par-three but the Dane then found water again at the ninth and with McIlroy unable to advance his ball far from deep rough they dropped the first of four holes in five to go three down and the match was eventually conceded on the 16th when Johnson hit it close.

Europe 0 United States 1

Justin Rose and Jon Rahm lost by 1 hole to Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau

Rose was given the task of playing the first match for the third Ryder Cup in succession and responded in a style befitting a man who birdied the 72nd hole of the Tour Championship on Sunday to win £7.6million. A superb approach to the first set up a tap-in birdie and although Finau chipped in for an eagle on the sixth, the American rookie drove out of bounds on the next before Rahm’s birdie on the eighth doubled the lead. Koepka’s chip in on the 11th was immediately followed by an even better one from Rose, but Koepka’s birdie on the 13th was followed by a massive stroke of luck on the 16th, where Finau’s water-bound tee shot hit a wooden sleeper on the edge of the hazard and bounced to within three feet of the hole. Rose then found the water with his approach to the 18th and the American pair had pulled off an unlikely win.

Europe 0 United States 2
Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton lost by 1 hole to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

The all-English pairing faced a daunting task against good friends Spieth and Thomas, two men who have both been ranked world number one, and Spieth made a flying start by almost holing his approach to the first. The three-time major winner also added birdies on the third, fifth, sixth and seventh before Thomas got in on the act with a birdie on the par-five ninth

Casey birdied the ninth and 10th simply to limit the damage and made it four in a row on 11 and 12 to close the gap, before Hatton’s birdie on the 13th remarkably got them back on level terms. However, Thomas birdied the daunting 15th to edge the Americans back in front and that proved decisive.

Europe 0 United States 3
Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood won 3&1 against Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods

Much was made of Woods’ renaissance but his play was nowhere near the level which helped him win his first event in five years at the Tour Championship on Sunday.

It began badly for the USA when Reed dumped his approach at the first into water, and Molinari birdied from eight feet. Woods levelled things up without even having to attempt a short birdie putt with the Europeans both in the same bunker.

Sand trouble for the Americans at the fourth saw Fleetwood hit an eight-iron to four feet at the fourth to put them ahead again, but they lost the seventh after failing to make par.

The long ninth also went the way of the USA after Fleetwood and Molinari both criminally failed to make par. Reed’s chip-in birdie at the 10th put them two up before Molinari holed a 20-footer at the next to reduce the deficit.

At the 15th Molinari and Reed put their approaches into the water and with Woods having to lay up out of the rough, Fleetwood birdied from the fringe.

Reed flirted with the water at the next while Woods went in it and Fleetwood holed a monster putt across the green to go one up. With the American pair failing to find the 17th green in regulation, Open champion Molinari birdied
from 15ft.

Overall Score: Europe 1 United States 3

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Jim Furyk and United States team hold slight edge ahead of Ryder Cup showdown with Europe

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Tony Finau was named in the US squad

Jim Furyk’s decision to name Tony Finau as his fourth and final wild card on Monday means both the United States and European teams for the Ryder Cup are now complete.

Here, Press Association Sport compares the sides ahead of their showdown at Le Golf National in Paris later this month.

World Ranking

Justin Rose’s runner-up finish at the BMW Championship on Monday saw the Englishman become world number one for the first time in his career. However, that is where the good news ends for Europe captain Thomas Bjorn. Americans occupy six of the top 10 positions and, although Europe hold the other four, the hosts also have four players ranked below the lowest US player Phil Mickelson, who sits 25th. The average ranking for Furyk’s side is 11.75, with Europe’s 18.5.

Verdict: Advantage USA

Justin Rose is the World No.1

Justin Rose is the World No.1


Major wins
America were already 12-6 ahead after both teams’ eight automatic qualifiers were confirmed, but while Bjorn was able to boost Europe’s tally to eight by picking Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, Furyk could call on the 19 major victories of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The US lead the category 31-8, have won three of 2018’s four majors – Francesco Molinari’s Open triumph bucking the trend – and 12 of the last 17 have been won by Americans.

Verdict: Comprehensive USA victory

Tiger Woods has won 14 majors

Tiger Woods has won 14 majors

Ryder Cup Record
Justin Thomas, Finau and Bryson DeChambeau are the only rookies on the US team, while Bjorn has five in his ranks with Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen all qualifying for the first time. However, of the seven Europeans with Ryder Cup experience, only Molinari averages less than half a point per match. America’s team have 139 matches of Ryder Cup experience to Europe’s 124, but much of it is negative, with Europe having collected 72.5 points to the 67 of the US, for whom Woods and Mickelson are among five players with losing records.

Verdict: Advantage Europe

Justin Thomas is one of the rookies in the US team

Justin Thomas is one of the rookies in the US team


Form this year
On the face of it there is not much between the two sides, with the Americans having racked up 15 global victories in 2018 to Europe’s 13. However, Furyk probably has more to worry about than Bjorn on this front, with Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed’s form tailing off in recent weeks. And while US rookie DeChambeau cannot stop winning, Rose’s rise and the consistency of Molinari is a boost for Bjorn, whose main concern will be Sergio Garcia’s recent slump.

Verdict: All square

Jordan Spieth has not been in the best of form

Jordan Spieth has not been in the best of form

Course Record
Only three of America’s 12 players have played a competitive round at Le Golf National, and Thomas’ tie for eighth at this year’s Open de France is the only positive in this category for Furyk. Koepka missed the cut on his only appearance in 2013 and Watson not only went home after two rounds in 2011, but also offended the locals by complaining about the behaviour of spectators and referring to the Eiffel Tower as “the big tower” and the Arc de Triomphe as “an arch, whatever I rode around in a circle” during a press conference. Hatton is the only member of the European Tour not to record a top-10 finish at the Versailles venue, where Noren and Fleetwood have won in the last two years.

Verdict: Comprehensive Europe victory

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Sergio Garcia cannot wait to play in Ryder Cup after earning wildcard

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Sergio Garcia is grateful for earn a spot on Europe's team

Sergio Garcia has insisted he was right to jeopardise his Ryder Cup selection by missing the Made In Denmark tournament.

Captain Thomas Bjorn named Garcia as one of his four European team wildcard picks on Wednesday, completing the 12-strong line-up to face America in Paris from September 28-30.

Revealing his delight and relief at joining Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson as Europe’s wildcards, Garcia defended his decision to snub a chance for automatic qualification by sitting out the August 30 to September 2 Denmark tournament.

The Spaniard believes he will arrive in Paris rested and ready to lock horns with the Americans in a way he would not have been able to had he shouldered more tournament golf in the build-up.

“Unfortunately because of how the year went I had to play five weeks in a row in the summer, eight weeks out of 10 – and I’m not 25 any more, I’m 38,” said Garcia.

“I knew I was putting my position at risk, but at the same time I told Thomas I want to get to the Ryder Cup at 100 per cent.

“I don’t know how to play a Ryder Cup flat, and if I’m going to play a Ryder Cup flat I’m not going to help the team.

“I need to rest for two weeks then play a little bit before that and get to Paris with the best chance possible.

“He understood obviously, it didn’t make sense for me to play Denmark.

“Unfortunately things didn’t work out the way I would have loved, I had to make some hard decisions, but we’re here now and able to focus on bringing as much as possible to the team.

“To be able to be a part of a Ryder Cup team, it’s amazing, so I’m very proud; very thankful for being picked.

“I’m thrilled and now want to help my team again to make sure we have the best possibility of winning the Ryder Cup back.”

Garcia is the first European to win Ryder Cup selection having missed the cut at all four Majors in the season.

Fellow wildcard pick Poulter backed Bjorn’s selection however, insisting: “If you look at the highlights of what Sergio has brought to the European Ryder Cup team through the years, that’s why he was obviously picked to join the team.

“Incredible amounts of experience, a lot of points, an incredible amount of passion to the team.

“It’s hard to explain to the rookies how they are going to feel and how big a stage the Ryder Cup really is. You definitely need guys like Sergio in the team who can help these guys to be able to feel comfortable.”

Delighting in being back in the Ryder Cup team having acted as a vice-captain in defeat two years ago, Poulter said he is hungry for further success against America.

“It’s really motivated me hugely; being vice captain last time was difficult,” said Poulter.

“I enjoyed it just to be part of a Ryder Cup team still, that was pretty special.

“But to be 200 in the world and looking at the Ryder Cup from afar, it was pretty motivating to get my game back in shape, play with some passion and reignite the fire to get back into this Ryder Cup team.

“It’s been an amazing journey the last two years and one I’ve been very proud of to get back into this team.”

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