The first-day of the 2018 Ryder Cup in France was a tale of two rounds. The United States dominated the opening matches, winning 3 of 4, while the Europeans accomplished something that is rarely done in Ryder Cup golf — the went undefeated in the afternoon. The end result was a 5-3 lead for Europe going into Day 2.
Several things jumped out about the early matches. One, Tiger Woods continued his dismal Ryder Cup record when him and his partner, Patrick Reed, were dominated by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. The end result was 3 & 1, but it wasn’t that close.
Next, probably the worst Ryder Cup round of golf in a long time was played by Jordan Spieth when he was paired in the afternoon with Justin Thomas. Already down two, Spieth chunked a chip shot to leave Thomas in an impossible spot then, on the same hole, missed a 5 footer for the tie. On the next hole, Spieth missed another 5 footer to keep the match close, losing a second hole in a row. Then, to add insult to injury, he missed a green with a wedge in his hand, then promptly hit a tee shot in the water. Spieth and Thomas were beat 5 & 4 in Foursome matches, but it just simply did not seem that close.
For the most part, Foursome golf — essentially alternate shot — has doomed the Americans the past few years. The Europeans did the same thing, when they went 4-0, a few years ago to take control of the Cup then as well. But this time Europe dominated the United States. No match was even close, with the other Foursome matches going 3 & 2, 4 & 2, and 5 & 4. In match play golf, those are all routs.
Jim Furyk, the American captain, has some decisions to make. Does he sit Spieth and Phil Mickelson, who both seem like they are not playing their best golf? Or, does the American leader fire up his team for a strong comeback on Saturday?
Traditionally, Europe has dominated the team play while the Americans seem to be most comfortable in singles. So, for the U.S. to retain the Cup, they have to stay close going into Sunday. If the Europeans have another day like today Saturday, then Sunday’s individual matches won’t matter.