One of the greatest sporting events on two different continents is upon us. The 2018 Ryder Cup, the biannual event that pits the best golfers in the United States against those in Europe, officially started this morning in Paris. The Americans have jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first session (which we will dive more into) and are currently in the midst of competition with the afternoon session. Check out how the U.S. was able to grab the lead this morning, why history says that is a good thing, and how the Europeans are poised for a comeback.
Ryder Cup Kicks-Off With the U.S Jumping to a 3-1 Lead Over Europe
While we do all love the Ryder Cup, it probably was hard for most Americans to catch the beginning as all the golfers teed-off around 3 am this morning. In case you missed that, what you did not see was the Americans jump out to a much-needed 3-1 lead in the event.
The two squads played four-ball started the 20th Ryder Cup played between the U.S and the Europeans (previously just Great Britain before 1979). The pairings featured the Americans putting Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau taking on Europeans Justin Rose and Jeff Rahm. If it wasn’t for an incredible bounce off a wall separating the course from the water off a Finau shot, the Americans could have been starting at a 0-1 deficit. Instead, the U.S took the lead on the 18th, and the inaugural lead in the Ryder Cup.
Number one player in the world Dustin Johnson teamed up with Rickie Fowler in the second grouping and took on Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Oleson. Surprisingly, Johnson and Fowler handily took them down, and McIlroy was unable to get anything going.
The Americans took a 3-0 lead on the day when the power couple of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas took on Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton. While the U.S seemed to have an advantage on paper, Casey and Hatton kept it close, but the Americans were able to win the matchup in the end.
The only place where the Americans fell would be from their latest tournament champion’s grouping. Tiger Woods, coming off his 80th PGA Tour Victory, and Patrick Reed were unable to get anything going against Europe’s Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. Reports say Woods’ swing seemed slow, and his tee shot that ended up in the pond on the 16th was crucial in the loss. Woods seemed upbeat despite the loss, and the U.S still held a 3-1 lead heading into the afternoon pairings.
However, the Afternoon Matches are Shaping-Up Much Differently
While the U.S started the Ryder Cup off hot, things are looking bleach in these afternoon pairings. Now playing straight-up foursomes, the Europeans are gaining momentum. By momentum, I mean that Europe is dominating the Americans in the second leg of the Ryder Cup.
As of the time of this writing, Team Europe is leading all four afternoon matches. Rose and Henrick Stenson are up multiple strokes on Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, while the same can be said of Alex Noren, Sergio Garcia, and their matchup with Bryson DeChambeau and Phi Mickelson. While McIlroy and Ian Poulter are holding a slim lead over Fower/Johnson (the same goes for Fleetwood and Molinari vs Spieth/Thomas), the Americans are in big trouble. The Europeans have never swept the foursomes stage of the Ryder Cup, and a clean win slate would change the tide of the entire event. If the Americans want to stay competitive, they need to at least keep it tied up after the Friday afternoon matches.
What Can We Expect in the Ryder Cup From Here?
The Ryder Cup has started in as dramatic fashion as fans could have hoped for. We have had chip-ins, success, disappointments, and everything in between. The Americans jumped out to a grand lead, but the Europeans are currently bouncing back and looking like they won’t go down with a fight. Either way, everyone knows that the Ryder Cup is one of the greatest sporting events on Earth, and it will be interesting to see how it goes from here.
Earning 3 points in the first session hasn’t happened for the Americans since 1989, and history says whoever jumps out to an early lead has a great shot at winning. However, whoever has won four-ball has went on to win 6 out of the last 7 times, so the Europeans are looking great in that regard. Also, for this specific situation, the past does not project a good present: the U.S is 0-3-1 in all Ryder Cups since 1979 when leading after the first round on foreign soil. Maybe there is no causation to the correlation, but either way, the Americans need to step it up if they want to keep their lead and keep the 2018 Ryder Cup out of the hands of the Europeans.