Friday fourballs in focus: Europe turn the tide

The United States stormed into a 4-0 lead at the Ryder Cup, only to be pegged back to 5-3 in the afternoon fourballs.

Published : Oct 01, 2016 14:55 IST

Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera Bello
Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera Bello

Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera Bello

The United States stormed into a 4-0 lead at the Ryder Cup, only to be pegged back to 5-3 in the afternoon fourballs.

Our man at Hazeltine, Alec Brzezinski, provides match-by-match analysis of Friday's second session.


Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson defeated Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth 5 and 4

Redemption is sweet. After struggling to make putts in the morning foursomes, Stenson and Rose holed just about everything against the same opponents during the afternoon. Stenson birdied four holes on the front nine and came agonisingly close to a hole-in-one on the eighth, while Rose added two gains of his own.

Fatigue seemed to affect Reed and Spieth, while there was a noticeable decline in crowd outbursts, seemingly a direct consequence of the opening pairing struggling to hold off Stenson and Rose.

The Europeans needed to make a strong statement after losing all four morning match-ups. Stenson and Rose delivered by handing Spieth and Reed their first Ryder Cup loss as partners in convincing fashion.


Rafael Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia defeated Ryan Moore and JB Holmes 3 and 2

It seems clear Davis Love III made a mistake in pairing Holmes, who has not competed in a Ryder Cup since 2008, with rookie Moore. The final pick for the US team, Moore was out of sync and charged up early in his round. He rebounded with two clutch birdies on the back nine, but this was an odd home pairing that did not produce the desired result.

After a lifeless display alongside Martin Kaymer in the morning, Garcia - the proud owner of a superb Ryder Cup record - appeared re-energised by his link-up with compatriot Cabrera Bello.

The rookie Spaniard was one of the star performers of the opening day. He hit quality shots, made some key putts and his calm demeanour was one of a player completely comfortable with the environment.


Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka defeated Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer 5 and 4

Love's second change from the morning pairings worked out far better than his first. Snedeker was on fire with his putter and Koepka displayed an unrivalled ability to crush drives and hit tight iron shots. Willett, who was booed on the first tee, and Kaymer, virtually anonymous on Friday despite playing twice, did not put up much of a fight.

After a chilly, electric morning wave, the rising heat seemed to sap the life out of the Americans and their many fans by the afternoon. However, Koepka and Snedeker tried their best to help the US maintain momentum. Koepka was dialled in all afternoon, while his partner showed plenty of passion following clutch putts. Look for this pairing to appear again on Saturday.


Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters defeated Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3 and 2

After playing with Ryder Cup rookie Andy Sullivan and stumbling down the stretch to throw away a two-hole lead with just four to play, McIlroy partnered another first-timer in the afternoon - with vastly different results.

Pieters looked nervous in the morning playing with a woefully out-of-form Lee Westwood, but the long-hitting Belgian bounced back to earn success against the same duo that trounced him in the morning. European skipper Darren Clarke clearly has confidence in him.

McIlroy was spectacular once again, ending the match with an eagle three on the par-five 16th hole that he celebrated with an emphatic fist pump. 

Johnson and Kuchar looked as if all the energy they played with in the morning had been drained out of them. Despite constant chants of "Kuch" and "U-S-A", neither player really showed any emotion. Johnson struggled with his accuracy and Kuchar did not make a birdie until the match's final hole.

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