SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, FRANCE | As if getting skunked in the foursomes sessions Friday afternoon and ceding command of this Ryder Cup to the Europeans weren’t bad enough, there’s a potentially more concerning thought for the United States team.
They have to play foursomes again Saturday afternoon.
If you’re looking for threads that tie together the Americans’ 25-year shutout on this side of the Atlantic, this is more like a thick red rope. In the previous four Ryder Cups played overseas, the U.S. has lost the foursomes play every time.
None of the four matches reached the 17th hole Friday afternoon, which underscores how lopsided it was and didn’t do much for the gallery gathered around the 18th green, who could at least watch the wipeout on a massive television screen.
“It’s hard to say it’s not right at the top as a session,” European captain Thomas Bjørn said sitting on a 5-3 overnight advantage.
What’s that old saying? One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor?
“We have to shore things up, and I’m guessing we’ll switch things up in the afternoon tomorrow. We’ve already been thinking about that,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said.
The European side was brilliant Friday afternoon.
To be fair, the U.S. swept the first foursomes session at Hazeltine two years ago so they are capable of flipping the script. It’s just that it rarely seems to happen away from home.
Four years ago at Gleneagles, the Americans didn’t win any foursomes matches over two days. They did manage to halve two matches. After the 4-0 blitz in breezy French countryside Friday afternoon, the tenor of this Ryder Cup changed almost instantly.
What is it about playing alternate shot over here that makes the Americans look like they’re at Topgolf on a Friday night?
“Foursomes, it’s a tough one. It’s unusual and it’s very tough to figure out what team to throw out where and what guys are rolling,” Jordan Spieth said.
The U.S. team dominated the morning session and was a Tommy Fleetwood moment away from sweeping the four-ball matches. Then, faster than you can say ‘sacre bleu,’ the Americans were caught in a time warp.
Three of the four U.S. pairings never had the lead. They made eight birdies over 60 combined holes, only one coming from the Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth team. Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau were 7-down to Sergio García and Alex Norén after nine holes.
At one point, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson made four straight bogeys, allowing Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter to win three consecutive holes with pars.
The talking points for the Americans center around Saturday being another day and not to forget how well they played in the morning session. It’s a fair point but what happened Friday afternoon threw an edge into what the U.S. team must accomplish on Saturday.
“We didn’t play our best golf,” Furyk said. “What happened, I think it happens a lot in golf, is the momentum. You start seeing those putts go in. You start seeing the birdies. You start seeing the blue numbers on the board. I think the guys press a little hard. I think they try a little bit too hard and I think they put a little bit too much pressure on themselves.
“That type of format is about executing and hitting a bunch of fairways and hitting a bunch of greens and putting the pressure on the other team, and Europe was able to do that better than us this afternoon.”