Well, things have not been going well for the U.S. team in France at the Ryder Cup.
After getting off to a good start in the Friday morning four-ball matches that saw the U.S. go up 3-1 over the Europeans, things came unraveled. The foursome matches on day one were an absolute disaster for the U.S. team, who were swept in foursomes for the first time in history.
It was also the first time that a sweep consisted of all matches decided by a margin of 3&2 or greater.
After day one, the Europeans held a 5-3 lead and all the momentum. Needing to get things jump-started and bring a little bit of energy back into the U.S. side, captain Jim Furyk sent out … the same four-ball groups on day two as day one. Obviously, he was hoping for a similar result from Finau-Koepka, Johnson-Fowler, and Thomas-Spieth, and for a Reed-Woods rebound after a 3&1 loss. That is not how things played out.
The only four-ball winners for the Americans on day two were Thomas and Spieth, who, thanks mostly to Spieth’s play (Spieth won three holes, Thomas won two), won 2&1. That made the deficit swing to 8-4 in favor of the Europeans.
Luckily, Saturday foursomes were split with two wins a side, but the damage has been done and the U.S. now trails 10-6 entering singles on Sunday. While that may not seem like a daunting task to overcome, it has only been done twice in Ryder Cup history and neither of those comebacks has been on European soil.
One of those comebacks happened in 1999 at Brookline in Boston — the only 10-6 comeback for the Americans. The other took place at Medinah and resulted in a European victory. That Medinah comeback featured five Americans that are on this 2018 team (Woods, Watson, Mickelson, Simpson, and Johnson).
In other words, it’s not looking good for the U.S. side.
Looking at the match-ups for Sunday’s singles play, there are a few instances that favor the Americans, however, they will need to jump on things early and establish a lead to spark the rest of the guys.
What’s gone wrong for the U.S.
- The U.S. has struggled to find the fairway on this extremely narrow course. It’s clear that the Europeans knew what they were doing in setting up Le Golf National this way with tight fairways and extremely thick rough.
- Patrick Reed, aka Captain America, has been missing in action since day one and it appeared to get worse for him on day two. In Saturday morning four-balls, Reed only contributed four holes alongside Woods, and two of those were lost.
- Jim Furyk’s captain’s picks have been absent. Bryson DeChambeau, who I questioned had what it takes to be on this team ahead of his two FedExCup wins, is (0-2-0) playing alongside Woods. He did show some emotion during Saturday afternoon foursomes, but they were slaughtered 5&4. Tony Finau (1-1-0) has shown signs of life around the greens, but not much else. Phil Mickelson (0-1-0) has only played in one match, and he lost 5&4 to Garcia and Noren. Tiger is now 0-3-0 this year at the Ryder Cup. I’m not sure if that’s because his partners, Reed and DeChambeau, have been struggling so much, or what the deal is.
What’s gone right for the U.S.
- Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson showed up on Saturday afternoon in their foursome match against McIlroy and Poulter. Both Watson and Simpson entered the match with losing foursomes records in Ryder Cup play but were able to pull it together and claim a BIG win over two of the best Ryder Cup players on the European team.
- Jordan Spieth has been lights-out. He has combined for three of the six points for the American side and while it may be hard for some to imagine it, he may have been the difference in 2016 when he played alongside Patrick Reed. While Reed did the heavy lifting that year, he’s done nothing this year and the obvious difference is that he hasn’t been paired with Spieth.
- Ian Poulter has run into a buzz saw in matches against Jordan Spieth. Poulter is now 1-2-0 this year with his win coming during the Friday afternoon foursomes sweep. It helps the Americans that he’s been paired with Jon Rahm, who appeared early to be feeling it, and Rory McIlroy.
What’s gone wrong for the Europeans
- Umm, after Friday morning four-balls, nothing.
What’s gone right for the Europeans
- Everything. It’s that simple.
- The course is proving to be favorable for the Europeans. They’re finding the narrow fairways and setting themselves up with much easier approaches into the greens.
- Thomas Bjorn’s captain’s picks have showed up in full force. Paul Casey (1-1-0) has played well even though he lost in Friday morning four-ball. Sergio Garcia (2-1-0) has been a force full of emotion. Henrik Stenson (2-0-0) has won both matches he’s participated in.
- Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood are the second duo to go 4-0 in a single Ryder Cup. Both have an opportunity on Sunday in singles to become the first to have a record of 5-0 for the European side in a Ryder Cup. Fleetwood faces Finau while Molinari faces Mickelson.