USA lead Europe after the Friday Morning Fourball Matches

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USA Lead Europe After Morning Fourballs

After five hours of nip-and-tuck matchplay, USA lead Europe on the opening day of The Ryder Cup, taking the Friday morning fourballs 3-1.

Only an inspired performance from Open champion Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, against the much-fancied Tiger Woods and ‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed denied the Americans a clean sweep.

With the talking over, American Tony Finau hit the opening tee shot to get the 42nd Ryder Cup underway, as his side went in pursuit of a first win on European soil in 25 years.

Despite the partisan crowd and 6,928 seats surrounding the first tee – the largest first-tee grandstand ever at a Ryder Cup – rookie Finau was equal to the task – although Justin Rose and Jon Rahm weren’t about to blink, the Spaniard taking the opportunity to delay his opening shot to coax more cheers from the galleries.

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It was Rose, fresh off his FedEx Cup payday in Georgia, who laid down an early marker with a perfect drive and approach to within a matter of inches that put early blue on the board for Europe.

And there was plenty more to come from the Englishman, including a wonderful chip-in from thick rough on the 12th, the ball just trickling in the front door to spark jubilant celebrations.

It was a nip and tuck match, however, and despite some wayward tee shots from Finau, and partner Brooks Koepka, the Match was all square after the par-3 16th, when Finau took advantage of some outrageous luck when his tee shot bounced off the sleepers just over the water’s edge to land three feet from the pin.

After halving the 17th, tensions grew as the Match went down the difficult 18th – and the pressure was on the Europeans when both Finau and Koepka found the fairway.

With Rahm leaking his drive right into heavy rough, Rose, who recently lost his short spell at the top of the world ranking, split the fairway and drew a finger to his lips in response to some goading from the crowd.

However, moments later the water rippled at Rose’s aggressive approach rolled into the hazard, which gifted the Americans their second point.

In Match 2, Thorbjorn Olesen was visibly nervous as he stepped onto the tee, and pulled his opening shot into the water. It set the scene for the Dane and partner Rory McIlroy, who was strangely out of sorts for most of his round.

USA lead Europe, McIlroy struggles

USA lead Europe at The Ryder Cup after Friday morning’s fourballs, as Rory McIlroy struggles [Getty Images]

Playing against world number one, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, they never got out of the blocks and eventually succumbed 4&2 to the Americans.

At that stage, all three of the other matches were all square, before US pairing Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas edged ahead on the 15th against Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton.

With five birdies in the opening seven holes, Spieth never looked like missing alongside his close friend, the pair opening up a 3UP advantage, before a stunning fightback from the English duo set up a thrilling finale.

However, when Hatton missed from mid range on the 18th, Spieth rolled in to secure a 1UP victory.

Fleetwood and Molinari came to life on the back nine, the Englishman holing a huge putt on the par-3 16th to open up a two-hole lead, which came on the back of another birdie on 15.

It was left to Molinari to drain a long putt on the 17th to wrap up an impressive 3&1 victory and give Team Europe something to build on going into the afternoon foursomes.