Europeans grab commanding Ryder Cup lead after Day 1 in Rome
The much-anticipated first day of the 2023 Ryder Cup lived up to the hype — at least if you’re a fan of the Europeans.
The day started about as well as the Euros could’ve hoped. Playing foursomes (alternate shot) in the morning session for the first time since 1993, Luke Donald’s squad was dominant from the start as they secured a clean sweep before lunch. The Americans never held a lead in any match as they look to win on foreign soil for the first time in 30 years.
The afternoon session was not the same beatdown that we saw in the morning, but thanks to some clutch play from the Europeans down the stretch, they did not lose a match (three halves) and will head into Saturday with a commanding 6.5-1.5 lead.
Here’s how Friday’s matches unfolded.
Rahm/Hatton def. Scheffler/Burns 4 and 3
The Europeans wasted no time getting on the board first as Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton easily dispatched of Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. Rahm and Hatton made four birdies (plus an eagle) as the American duo produced just one. The loss dropped Scheffler and Burns’ all-time foursomes record (in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups) to 0-3-0 as the Europeans claimed the first point of the Ryder Cup.
Hovland/Aberg def. Homa/Harman 4 and 3
Match No. 2 played out much like the first. The Scandinavian duo of Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg carded five birdies in 15 holes as they dispatched Ryder Cup rookies Max Homa and Brian Harman.
Lowry/Straka def. Morikawa/Fowler 2 and 1
Different match, same story for the Europeans. Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka carded five birdies in the third match of the morning as they took down Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler in 17 holes. The loss gave the Europeans a commanding 3-0 lead.
McIlroy/Fleetwood def. Schauffele/Cantlay 2 and 1
Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood made it a clean sweep for the Euros in the first session. With five birdies, they took down the formidable duo of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay 2 and 1, completing a dominant morning for the Europeans. The sweep was historic as it marked the first time Europe has taken the opening session 4-0.
Thomas/Spieth tie Hovland/Hatton
Justin Thomas was a polarizing pick for the American side, but in his first action in Rome, he delivered in a big way. While his partner Jordan Spieth struggled throughout the back nine, Thomas answered the bell in their match with Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton. After Hovland drained a 26-footer on the 18th hole for birdie, Thomas responded with a birdie of his own to salvage a half point.
Scheffler/Koepka tie Rahm/Højgaard
This one — featuring three major champs — was a heavyweight bout. The four players combined for 20(!) birdies and two eagles over the course of the match as neither team held a lead larger than 1 up. In the end, clutch eagles from Rahm on Nos. 16 and 18 secured a half point for the Europeans, dealing a major blow to the Americans’ attempt to seize momentum.
Clark/Homa tie MacIntyre/Rose
Wyndham Clark and Max Homa looked poised to put the first full point on the board for the Americans, but thanks to a birdie-birdie finish from Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose, they could only scratch out a halve.
McIlroy/Fitzpatrick def. Morikawa/Schauffele 5 and 3
Although Matthew Fitzpatrick had played in two previous Ryder Cups, he’d never scored a point for his side. That changed on Friday afternoon — and in convincing fashion. Fitzpatrick and partner Rory McIlroy dominated Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, combining for eight birdies and an eagle over 15 holes. The European duo held a 6-up lead at the turn as they played the opening nine in a scorching nine under. They were on cruise control from there, eventually dispatching the Americans 5 and 3.