In this Ryder Cup Day 1 Report, we look at the opening day's play that saw American take a big lead before europe fought back


Ryder Cup Day 1 Report

Winning a point in the Ryder Cup, they say, is never easy. As the morning foursomes drew to a close it felt impossible. Darren Clarke’s side were hit by a thunderbolt in Minnesota, as one-by-one Europe’s top talent was blown away. Make no mistake, this was brutal.

After losing six of the last seven Ryder Cups, the Americans decided to set up a task force to figure what was going wrong. The reaction seemed slightly over the top and was largely ridiculed. But as Team USA put clear water between themselves and Europe, it had clearly worked.

Ryder Cup 2016

The tone was set in the opening match. Europe’s marquee pairing of Rose and Stenson were behind from the start. Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth proving themselves just the spark the US team needed. The rest followed and when Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy finally fell to Fowler and Mickelson the outlook was bleak. As early as lunchtime on day one, this looked like theirs to win.

Darren Clarke knew this would be a huge test of character. To win the Ryder Cup away from home with six rookies and having lost all of the opening round of matches might just be a script too far for the Ryder Cup story makers. But all credit to them. They rallied hard in the afternoon. Stenson and Rose knew the only way to beat Reed and Spieth in round two would be to play their very best. And that’s what we got – especially from Stenson who proved himself to be every inch the Open Champion.

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The best European rookie performance of the day belonged to Rafa Cabrera Bello. He looked calm, assured, in control as he and Sergio Garcia to took control of their match.

In the final grouping, Thomas Pieters swapped an out of sorts Lee Westwood for Rory McIlroy. The two clicked and Europe were fighting back.

What an opening day. The lead lies with the US but the momentum is Europe’s. This evening Darren Clarke will need to make some important decisions – notably what to do with his two senior wild card picks. Westwood and Kaymer were poor on day one. Surely he couldn’t risk sending them out again. And what of Matthew Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood? Conventional wisdom speaks of the importance of playing all 12 players on day one. Clarke resisted that temptation and the repercussions of that decision could yet be felt.

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Perhaps the most impressive aspect of today’s performance was the calmness of the European reaction. Losing 4-0 after the morning foursomes, would in years gone by, have sent ripples of panic through the team. Not this time. Even with so many rookies in the line-up they didn’t panic. They kept plugging away and are still very much in this. The stage is set…