7 numbers that explain Europe’s dominant Ryder Cup start
The leaderboards around Marco Simone Golf Club bled blue on Friday.
From the time the first tee balls were struck, Team Europe dominated. They swept the morning foursomes session 4-0 and then used some clutch play in the afternoon to keep the loss column clean, ending the day with a 6.5-1.5 lead. It was bliss for the Euros, and disaster for the Americans.
“Unbelievable start,” said European captain Luke Donald . “Historic day, but we want it to be an historic week, so the job is certainly not done. We will all celebrate an amazing day, but we’ll be back tomorrow morning with the goal of trying to win tomorrow morning’s session.”
If they bring the same energy they brought today, that should be no problem. The first-day morning sweep was a first for the Europeans, and an important step toward protecting home field for the seventh consecutive time.
Below are seven numbers that explain Team Europe’s dominant start.
0 – Matches won by the U.S.
Team USA was utterly outmatched on Day 1 at Marco Simone. While the Europeans came up with big shot after big shot, the Americans struggled to produce any sparks. There was, for a brief moment in the afternoon session, some American momentum as they led in three matches, but thanks to some stellar play down the stretch from the Europeans, all three ended in disappointing halves. As a result, the Americans were shut out from the win column for an entire day for the first time in Ryder Cup history.
1 – Point scored by Matthew Fitzpatrick
Matthew Fitzpatrick had yet to score a point in his Ryder Cup career heading into the week, but he changed that on Friday — and in convincing fashion. While the rest of Team Europe had to scratch and claw for half points in afternoon four-balls, Fitzpatrick and partner Rory McIlroy dominated their match for a 5 and 3 victory. The match featured eight birdies and an eagle between the pair as they scored the first point of the afternoon for Team Europe.
4 – Times the opening session has been swept
Prior to Friday, the opening session had been swept three times — all by Team USA. Each time they went on to win the Cup — and they did so in convincing fashion. According to stats guru Justin Ray, the average margin of victory in those wins was 8.7 points. Good news for Team Europe.
9 – U.S. players with negative strokes gained
Team USA got outplayed on Day 1 (that much is obvious), but how bad was the beatdown? Well, according to Data Golf, just three of 12 Americans (Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brooks Koepka) on Friday gained strokes.
It’s tough to win when three quarters of the team is losing strokes to the field.
20 – Combined birdies from Scheffler, Koepka, Rahm and Høgaard
Match No. 2 in the afternoon was a heavyweight bout. With three major champs and one of Europe’s brightest young stars featured, fans had this match circled — and the play delivered. The four players combined for 20 birdies and two eagles over 18 holes, culminating in a eagle-par-eagle finish from Rahm to scratch out a half point. Although it looked like Team USA had a chance to get in the win column for the first time, the Euros were too much coming down the stretch.
69.2 – Winning percentage when leading after Day 1
Getting off to a hot start is crucial in the Ryder Cup. When leading after Day 1, teams have a winning percentage of 69.2% since 1993, according to the Golf Channel. Team Europe is in prime position to pad that number even more after their historic day in Rome.
115 – Holes led by Team Europe
The two sides played 133 holes on Friday, and the Europeans led after 115 of them. Team USA did not lead for a single hole in the morning session, and even though they erased that goose egg in the afternoon, they were unable to secure a full point in any match.