Tour Confidential Daily: Who Has the Momentum After Day 1 of the Ryder Cup?

October 1, 2016

Each day during the Ryder Cup, writers, producers and editors from the Sports Illustrated Golf Group give their opinions on the trending topic of the day at Hazeltine National. Agree with our takes? Disagree? Tweet us your thoughts at @golf_com.

We saw the Americans storm out to a 4-0 lead in the morning, but the Europeans bounced back in a big way to take three points in the afternoon four-ball session and trail just 5-3 entering Saturday. Who has the momentum heading into the weekend?

Josh Sens, contributor, GOLF: Either side could put a rose tint on their glasses and try to see the day in a positive light. But looked at through an objective lens, the other guys clearly have the momentum. They bounced back from a morning beating and have made it close again. If it stays close after Saturday’s matches, things will start to shape up all the more in favor of the Europeans, who always seem to play looser when things get tight.

Pete Madden, senior producer, If I’m Davis Love, I’ll pass on the head-shake eye-roll quote-unquote momentum and take the points. In the only category that matters, the U.S. outperformed Europe (not to mention everyone’s expectations) on Friday. That should be more than enough to keep the squad confident heading into the weekend.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: There isn’t really a weekend in Ryder Cup golf. There’s Friday morning and Friday afternoon. There’s Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. There’s Sunday. Sunday’s character is completely different from Friday and Saturday. Friday and Saturday are more like the first 54-holes at Augusta, where you are trying to get yourself in position to win. At 5-3, this thing is a tied ballgame.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I still give the edge to the U.S. Who wouldn’t have signed up for a 5-3 lead at the end of the day? Plus, don’t discount the fact that the Americans got all 12 players on the course today, while European rookies Matthew Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood spent the day on the range. Captain Darren Clarke’s hand was most certainly forced after getting shut out in the morning, but now he’s sending both rookies out in alternate shot on Saturday and splitting up the dynamic duo of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose to do it. Not ideal.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Can 5-3 be called a tie? The U.S. had the Europeans on the ropes but couldn’t put them on the canvas. And Rory’s walk-off eagle and macho celebration will make the European dinner taste that much better. Still, points are points and the U.S. has more of them. For now.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, I think momentum is a big deal here. Rory’s eagle putt and reaction reminded me of Ian Poulter’s epic run in ’12 at Medinah. Granted, Poulter’s rally came on a Saturday afternoon, and a lot has changed between the two teams since then, but Rory landed the most significant shot of the day. The U.S. exceeded expectations in grabbing this lead, but they better be careful to not feel too proud of themselves tonight.

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Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Nobody. I don’t believe in momentum carrying over after the first day. That said, Stenson, Garcia and McIlroy had five birdies apiece in the afternoon and Rose had four. It doesn’t look like the Americans have an answer for those four. But it’s a new day. You’ve got to go out and make your own kind of music–and your own momentum.

Sean Zak, assistant editor, I’m with Gary. Momentum only exists if you believe in it, and while the Euros might like to think they’ve started something, they’ve really only started on a losing track. I doubt the Americans will be believing in any European momentum when they wake up tomorrow. Points, points, points.

Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF: I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Ritter in that it’s hard to overlook Rory’s exclamation point finish. That should favor Europe for momentum. Yet, they have some top talent who played terrible today. That’s a momentum-killer. I rate it even.

Josh Berhow, staff producer, The Americans have the lead, and that’s all that matters after the first day, which to me gives them the momentum. That said, the lasting image I have of today is Rory taking bowing in front of the gallery. The U.S. could have done without that pumping up the Europeans.