Ryder Cup 2018: Europe earns 5-3 lead with stunning foursomes sweep

Team USA threw away an early lead in the Ryder Cup with an abysmal team effort in the foursomes, Jim Furyk's men losing all four matches.

Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren on their way to a foursomes victory at the Ryder Cup   -  Getty Images

Team Europe capitalized on an American horror show, here, on Friday afternoon to complete an emphatic clean sweep of foursomes play at the Ryder Cup and secure a 5-3 first-day lead.

The United States put the first three points on the board in an absorbing morning of fourball contests, before Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood earned a vital victory for the hosts against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed.

Trailing by two points midway through the day, Europe then won every match convincingly in the afternoon as the Americans struggled badly in the alternate-shot format amid a stiffening breeze at Le Golf National.

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Astonishingly, the four U.S. foursomes pairings managed only a birdie among them over the front nine, enabling their opponents to seize the initiative simply by playing solid golf on a challenging course.

Europe ultimately cruised to its first whitewash in a Ryder Cup session since the opening day of the 1989 event at the Belfry — inflicting a first foursomes sweep on Team USA, two years after suffering a 4-0 loss of their own at Hazeltine.

All 24 players played Friday, but the wholesale changes from the fourballs yielded far greater reward for Thomas Bjorn's European side.

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Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren dished out the most eye-catching defeat, trouncing Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, 5 and 4, in a contest among four men not involved in the morning. Garcia, so often a key figure in European triumphs, and his rookie partner were 7 up at the turn as their rivals endured a miserable time.

Henrik Stenson was brought in to renew a previously successful partnership with Justin Rose, and the duo eased past Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, 3 and 2, having been 5 up through 11.

After a dismal morning in which he was the only player not to make a birdie, Rory McIlroy enjoyed better fortunes alongside the talismanic Ian Poulter, albeit they did not have to be at their best to record a 4-and-2 win over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, who bogeyed four holes in a row from the seventh after claiming an early lead.

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The final match of the day saw Molinari and Fleetwood, the only European pairing to stay together in both formats, make it two points out of two with a 5-and-4 triumph over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

Despite an improved showing on the back nine, every American pairing finished at least 2 over par. Bjorn's men now hold the edge heading into Saturday, while U.S. captain Jim Furyk will be tasked with masterminding a turnaround of his own.