Europe rallied from a disastrous morning whitewash – their first since the present format was adopted in 1979 – to give them some hope for the 41st Ryder Cup on a fluctuating first day at Hazeltine National.
Not since 1975 at Laurel Valley – when Arnold Palmer, who died at the weekend, was USA captain – had the opening morning foursomes session been swept, and it was a devastating early setback for the Euros with a ferociously partisan home crowd and an accomplished home team smelling blood.
However in the fourballs the Europeans came back strongly with dominating wins in three of the four matches, the one loss of a fourball point leaving them 5-3 behind at the end of the first day – the same margin as at Medinah four years ago.
It was a significant switch in momentum in the afternoon sunshine after the Europeans had floundered in the misty Minnesota morning, losing two matches from strong leading positions and with some of their important, experienced players looking out of sorts.
European captain Darren Clarke admitted his side had got what they deserved in the morning but promised they would change things in the afternoon, and with Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose leading out with nine birdie barrage against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, the atmosphere changed and the crowd were – relatively – quietened.
Rookie Brooks Kopeka and Brandt Snedeker snared an afternoon point for Davis Love III but Europe took both of the remaining fourballs with rookies Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thomas Pieters performing well to halve the gap from the morning’s play.
Darren Clarke was relieved and proud to see his side come back.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys and the way they played this afternoon after such a hole we were in at lunchtime,” he said.
“We’re going to have a good conversation now and get a firing squad for tomorrow, take a look at things and see if plans change.
“We dealt with the morning this afternoon, and now we sit down and look at what we need to do in the foursomes and get right back to where we need to be.”
Davis Love III was happy to still be ahead after seeing his side take such a commanding lead in the morning only for the US to strike back.
“You know it’s going to be close. We had a good morning and they had the afternoon, thankfully we got a point out of it.
“Our guys played pretty well actually, everybody was under par, we just didn’t play great and the Europeans did this afternoon.”