Team USA seize Ryder Cup advantage

The Friday fourballs provided plenty of drama as the 42nd Ryder Cup began with a bang in France.

Dustin Johnson (left) and Rickie Fowler   -  Getty Images

Team USA seized the initiative at the Ryder Cup as it secured a 3-1 lead after Friday's fourballs. The reigning champion, seeking a win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years, made a clear statement of intent at Le Golf National, where the players were welcomed onto the opening tee by a packed 6,900-seater grandstand.

Jim Furyk's side put the first point on the board, world number one Dustin Johnson combining with Rickie Fowler to beat an out-of-sorts Rory McIlroy and rookie partner Thorbjorn Olesen 4 and 2.

And, Europe skipper Thomas Bjorn had a bitter pill to swallow when the first match went America's way, Justin Rose and debutant Jon Rahm losing out on the final hole to 2018's double major winner Brooks Koepka and another rookie in Tony Finau.

READ: Woods rested; all 24 players feature on Ryder Cup opening day

The host's salvation came in the last fourball contest, with an inspired Tommy Fleetwood joining forces with Open champion Francesco Molinari to down headline act Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3 and 1.

Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, making his first appearance, were three down to the on-form Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas after 10 holes, fought back to all square through 13, but were ultimately beaten.

Two years ago at Hazeltine, America won the opening session 4-0 before going on to prevail 17-11 and in each of the last four Ryder Cups the team winning the first match has taken the title. There had been some signs of nerves on the daunting first tee, with Olesen the first to crack and find the water.

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Rose was the first man to sink a putt to win a hole and he and Rahm were two up through 12, only to suffer a gut-wrenching loss after the Englishman's approach rolled into the lake at 18.

The poor form of McIlroy will have provided one of Europe's biggest concerns, but he will return for the foursomes alongside Ian Poulter. 

Woods, who has lost in six of his seven Ryder Cup appearances, also went off the boil after a promising start. But, it is the home team who have it all to do now, with only Fleetwood and Molinari sparing their blushes so far.

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