A big fourballs win followed by a shared foursomes session has Europe on the brink of regaining the Ryder Cup ― it was another day to remember at Le Golf National as WADE PRETORIUS talks through the big moments.
This mainly comes back to the Phil Mickelson issue. He played only once on Friday and in a format that didn’t suit him before being rested for the entirety of Saturday. The decision to include Mickelson has backfired on Jim Furyk and left the USA side an option short. Furyk’s choice, and subsequent use, of Bryson DeChambeau, has been equally puzzling. The young American was clearly in form with two wins in the FedExCup playoffs but has struggled to make an impact in the foursomes. He heads out 12th in the singles and probably a little disillusioned with the competition.
Looking ‘across the pond’, Thomas Bjorn has been rewarded by opting for experience over form or youth. Henrik Stenson has only been sent out twice but has delivered two points and Paul Casey was in fine form in the fourballs on day two. Both Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia delivered on day one to add another feather in the cap of their Danish skipper.
Captain America? He hasn’t been seen in Paris so far and his contribution or lack thereof has affected his teammates badly. The decision to split Reed and Jordan Spieth was questionable but Reed has been far off his best and not even Spieth could’ve helped him on to the board in 2018. Some might question why the Masters champion has only played twice but then you only have to look at his return and think maybe Furyk got that right.
His (un)popularity in his home country has taken a massive turn after going 0-2.
The European captain has hardly put a foot wrong but he’s been far from consistent or predictable. His decision to send Tyrrell Hatton out alongside Casey on day one was ‘interesting’ and after they lost, his decision to do the same on Saturday was ‘bizarre’. Bizarrely brilliant you would have to say after the Englishmen bagged a key point against Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Bjorn’s Friday foursomes picks were spot on and his use of Stenson masterful. He has tinkered with established partnerships and most of his side’s losses were down to poor execution rather than partnerships. Furyk’s decisions have been labelled predictable but he’s had a far more difficult task after watching his star players struggle all week and losing eight matches in a row also affects the psyche.
No Europeans have gone 4-0. Until now. Francesco Molinari was thought of as consistent without the pizzazz and Tommy Fleetwood ‘just’ a promising rookie. Their play – and it’s been every part a team effort – has been nothing short of world-class as they built on yesterday and delivered two more knockout blows. To have beaten Tiger Woods for three of their four points is just the icing on the cake. And let them enjoy it.
Rose and Stenson
Used together just twice, and on both in the alternate shot format, the long-time allies have been brilliant and fended off a late run on Saturday from Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. If Bjorn’s plan was to a get a point in the first foursomes game today, he would’ve known Furyk was going to send out his best. The decision to send Rose and Stenson was easy but for them to deliver was a far greater task. The duo now has six points from eight matches, that’s clutch from two of the game’s best.
Big guns, big mess
Dustin Johnson is the world’s best player. His good friend has won three Majors, two of them in 2018. They are more than bombers off the tee as they have proven time and time again. They now have a massive question mark attached to their names after combining for just two wins – one each – from five matches. Not good enough if you want to get a rare Ryder Cup win on European soil.
Jordan and Justin show how it’s done
The combination has registered three wins from four. Without them, this thing would already be over but now they have given their team a glimmer of hope. Coming back from 6-10 has been done before (Brookline 1999 and Medinah 2012) and if Team USA somehow get close to winning, it’ll be down to their two wins on Saturday. And their two singles wins, of course.