Your 30-second guide to Day 1 at the Ryder Cup: What’s the score, why it matters, and the best rookie debut

September 28, 2018

While you were sleeping, a rollicking Ryder Cup got underway, with the U.S. jumping out to a quick morning lead before you’d fixed yourself your first cafe au lait. But that was then. In afternoon foursomes, the Europeans answered emphatically, surging ahead with a clean sweep while setting the stage for a nail-biting weekend. In case you missed it — or if you just want to relive it — here’s a quick recap of the opening day.

The score: Europe leads, 5-3

How it got there: By late morning, Paris-time, it looked like a romp for the red-white-and-blue, as the Americans nabbed the first three matches and seemed on their way to an opening session sweep. But in the anchor fourballs match, Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood mounted a comeback against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed to salvage a point for their team. The morning ended with the Americans up 3-1. But they didn’t win another match all day.

Why it may matter: Friday afternoon marked just the ninth time in Ryder Cup history that one side walked off with a 4-0 sweep. On each of those occasions, the team that swept went on to claim the Cup.

Best rookie performance: Tommy Fleetwood

After a shaky front nine in morning fourballs, Fleetwood found his happy place, winning the 15th and 16h holes for him and his partner, Francesco Molinari, to seal their comeback against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. In afternoon foursomes, paired once more with Molinari, Fleetwood continued his red-hot play as he and his partner throttled Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, 5 and 4.

Worst rookie performance: Bryson DeChambeau

In fairness, it takes two to tango, especially in alternate shot. And both Bryson and his partner, Phil Mickelson, looked wildly out of sorts in the afternoon session, making bogeys in bunches while getting whomped, 5 and 4, by Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren.

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter on Ryder Cup Friday.
Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter salute the European fans Friday at the Ryder Cup.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Best break: Tony Finau

On the par-three 16h hole in the morning session, with his team trailing 1-down, Finau struck a tee shot that sure looked wet. Lucky him, it wasn’t, as the ball bounced off a railroad tie and bounced improbably onto the green. Finau drained the putt to draw even, before he and Brooks Koepka went on to win.

Most schizophrenic showing: Rory McIlroy

After looking flat-out lost in morning four-balls, and starting shaky in the afternoon, Rory righted himself by driving the green on the short par-4 6th. The spring in his step returned, and he and his partner, Ian Poulter, ran off with a 4-and-2 win.

Most questionable captain’s decision: Mickelson and DeChambeau in alternate shot

Mickelson has always been a wild card. DeChambeau is a Ryder Cup rookie. By pairing the two in alternate shot, Capt. Furyk set himself up for second-guessing, which, like suffocating pressure, is just part of the event.

Most Unsettling Shot: Brooks Koepka

Whose drive on the par-4 6th hole sailed left and struck a female spectator just above the eye. The fan was taken away for medical attention, and Koepka, understandably, looked shaken and distracted. He went on to flub a chip, and to bogey the next hole.