(Guidonia Montecelio) Europe gave the Americans a brutal welcome and reminded them with aplomb why it had been 30 years since they last won the Ryder Cup outside the United States, sweeping all four matches of the opening session for the first time in front of a delirious crowd around the Marco Simone course.
The American discomfiture was such that on Friday morning no match reached the 18th hole.
Jon Rahm holed a 30-foot putt from outside the second green and hit a tee shot that hit the bottom of the flagstick on the par-3 seventh hole.
Viktor Hovland set the tone for the day for Team Europe by hitting an approach shot from the frieze of the first green that went over a ridge and into the hole.
Rory McIlroy delivered the final stab, with a tee shot that stopped two feet short of the goal on the par-3 17th hole. In doing so, the Northern Irishman and his partner Tommy Fleetwood — who adopted the nickname “Fleetwood Mac” for this edition of the Ryder Cup — inflicted their first loss in the alternating-shot format on Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
McIlroy said Luke Donald, the captain of Team Europe, asked his teammates to play three-hole matches in practice to develop a sense of urgency.
Whatever the plan, it worked almost to perfection.
“All week we’ve just been talking about fast starts…that’s something Luke instilled in us,” McIlroy said.
“We were ready to go from the first tee shot, as you could see by the way everyone played. »
There is no doubt that the Americans were crushed; they did not have the lead at any point in any of the four games.
Captain Zach Johnson’s plan included sidelining Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, a tandem that went 3-1 in the last Ryder Cup played in Europe.
Brooks Koepka, winner at the PGA Championship, and Wyndham Clark, who triumphed at the last edition of the United States Open, also played the role of spectators.
These inactive players have won 11 Grand Slam of golf tournaments, together.
“This was just our first time out here. We will have to make some adjustments across the board. Everything will be alright. I do not worry. Our team has depth. The guys are going to come out hungry in the next few games. »
Later Friday, Europe and the United States will field four new tandems in “two-ball, better-ball” format matches.