Team Europe leads by the somewhat infamous score of 10-6 after two days of team play at the 2018 Ryder Cup. The Europeans -- led again by the dynamic pairing of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood -- won the morning session 3-1 and split the afternoon foursomes 2-2, never allowing the United States get a foothold or sniff the lead.
The week felt like it hinged greatly on what happened early on Saturday, and what happened early on Saturday was a big mess for captain Jim Furyk and the U.S. For a while it looked as if they might turn it around and wriggle out of it, but in the end Europe laid the wood with both its veterans and its rookies, and the Yanks were left gasping for air going into the final team session in the afternoon.
Session 1: Fourballs -- Europe led USA 8-4
Tony Finau / Brooks Koepka
Sergio Garcia / Rory McIlroy
Europe wins 2&1
Dustin Johnson / Rickie Fowler
Paul Casey / Tyrell Hatton
Europe wins 3&2
Tiger Woods / Patrick Reed
Francesco Molinari / Tommy Fleetwood
Europe wins 4&3
Jordan Spieth / Justin Thomas
Jon Rahm / Ian Poulter
USA wins 3&1
If the second session of Friday was bad for the U.S., Saturday morning's opening session was worse. The Americans lost the first three four-ball matches (which made it eight in a row for the Euros going back to Friday morning) and trailed 8-3 early before ending the streak late.
The Paul Casey-Tyrrell Hatton pairing made seven birdies on the front nine, and Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler never really had a chance. They won two of the 16 holes they played, which was the exact same number Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed won over their 15 holes. Fleetwood and Molinari birdied two of the first three, and Reed looked completely lost. Woods couldn't carry him, and the outlook looked grim for the Americans.
Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau were four down with five to go before taking three straight holes off of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. Just when it looked as if there might be an opening, Garcia ended the match with this bomb and another full point for Europe.
Only Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas could stymie the Euros and end what, at that point, was an eight-match winning streak. Thomas ended them with four birdies in his last six holes, including this dagger at the 17th hole after a monster drive. If Friday was his baptism at this tournament, this match was his coming out party. We thought he would be a superstar in this format, and he was.
Session 2: Foursomes -- Europe leads USA 10-6
Dustin Johnson / Brooks Koepka
Justin Rose / Henrik Stenson
Europe wins 2&1
Bubba Watson / Webb Simpson
Sergio Garcia / Alex Noren
USA wins 3&2
Tiger Woods / Bryson DeChambeau
Francesco Molinari / Tommy Fleetwood
Europe wins 5&4
Justin Thomas / Jordan Spieth
Ian Poulter / Rory McIlroy
USA wins 4&3
Thankfully for Jim Furyk's squad, the Americans somewhat rallied in afternoon foursomes. After getting housed 4-0 in the Friday foursomes, the U.S. grabbed two points on Saturday, one of them from the unlikeliest pairing.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson took Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren to the woodshed. With Golf Twitter bemoaning yet another Watson-Simpson showing, they won five of the first eight holes and were the rock match for the U.S. throughout the afternoon. Their red flag never left the board, and Simpson took the honors on No. 16.
Woods changed partners but not fates on Saturday afternoon. Molinari and Fleetwood have gone 4-0 on the week, and three of those victories have come at Woods' hands.
Spieth and Thomas continued their flow from the morning session, and dusted McIlroy and Poulter by winning six of the final 12 holes of the match. Spieth punctuated the festivities with a righteous chest thump a la Poulter, and it was off to singles for the only multi-point winners on the U.S. side.
The entire tournament could have turned on the Koepka-Johnson vs. Rose-Stenson match. Koepka almost bowled over the flag on No. 15 to pull within one, but Stenson made two monster par putts on the next two holes to seal the deal. What could have been a 9-7 affair going into Sunday felt like it was getting out of hand.
The U.S. is still hanging on, and without at least a split in the afternoon, this Ryder Cup would have been curtains almost as quickly as it began. But they're going to need to match the biggest comeback in tournament history on Sunday to win.
Europe was clearly sniffing the close out on Saturday afternoon; it has all the momentum, the entire crowd and a recent history that portends a rout in singles. However, in two of the last three Ryder Cups where one of the teams has led 10-6 going to Sunday, the other team has taken home the Ryder Cup.
The U.S. is probably better suited for singles play, and it has a young pair in Spieth and Thomas who can do some damage early and often. Sunday's singles should be fascinating as Europe looks to make it seven Ryder Cups in nine tries and the U.S. tries to steal one in dramatic fashion in Paris.
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