Phil Mickelson

USA Today

Day 1 Of Ryder Cup

From 3-0 up to 5-3 down.

September 28, 2018 - 10:02 am

The Ryder Cup is under way and if you woke up early this morning and checked the scores from Le Golf National near Paris, you probably saw the US winning the first session 3-1, made a couple of jokes about French hygiene and went about your day expecting the US to have this wrapped up by lunchtime tomorrow.

After all, the Americans dominated the morning session.

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas beat Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton

Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau came back to beat Justin Rose and Jon Rahm

Dustin Johnson and Ricky Fowler smashed Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen

In fact, the only thing that kept the Americans from a grand slam this morning was Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed losing to Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.

But you will take 3-1 in the morning session on the road every time. Especially when you have been hot garbage in Europe for the better part of forever. Match that this afternoon or even get a 2-2 split and the US is rolling. 

Except that is not at all what happened. Because everything that went right for the Americans in the morning, went totally wrong in the afternoon. They couldn’t make a putt. They spent more time in the rough than on the fairway. Hell, they couldn’t win a hole.

It wasn’t just that there were four European flags on the board for most of the second session, those matches weren’t close. That was a complete and utter humiliation. Then went from being a golf competition to a boat race. A total beatdown. The matches weren’t even close. There three whole leads all over the place. If there was a mercy rule, it would’ve been invoked at the turn in every match.

Phil Mickelson and Bryson Dechambeau somehow managed to find a way to be down six with six to go. Phil could not have looked worse. For all the talk of this being his final Ryder Cup competition in Europe, it looked like he should’ve made four years ago his final Ryder Cup competition in Europe.

At one point, the four American teams had combined for exactly one birdie. Four teams, one birdie. But they did manage to combine for 11 bogeys. So that was impressive.

Rory went from spraying shots all over the course in the morning to being red hot in the afternoon. And the US suddenly looked like a high school team in disguise.

Spieth was shaky on the green. But it wasn’t just him. Every single guy in American gear was brutal on the green. If a putt had to be made, you could count on an American to miss it. Meanwhile, guys like Ian Poulter were dropping long bombs like old times.

But that’s how it always is for the Americans in the Ryder Cup. You can set your watch to it. They’ll dominate the opening session, get to a nice lead, and then throw it into neutral, or even reverse. If the Ryder Cup was awarded after the opening session of the tournament, it would never leave America.

But that’s not how it works and this is how the Americans always work. Just when you think they’re going to actually show up and play well, they melt down. It’s like they start high-stepping into the end zone and then trip on the thirty-five yard line.

They had a 3-0 lead at one point today and promptly lost the next five matches. From 3-0 up to 5-3 down. The first time Europe had ever swept a foursome session. 

And I can’t stress this enough, the afternoon matches weren’t even close. It was a whitewashing. 4-0 Europe. And not just 4 matches by 1-up.

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose wrecked Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 3 and 2.

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter steamrolled Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 4 and 2

Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren stomped Mickelson and Dechambeau 5 and 4

Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood blew out Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 5 and 4

And honestly, it wasn’t even as close as those scores indicate. 

And that’s how it always happens in foursomes for the US. It’s their damn kryptonite. It doesn’t matter how much you stack the roster. It doesn't matter the captain. It doesn't matter about strategies. It doesn’t matter how many top ten players are in the lineup, it doesn’t matter how big the deal, they will find a way to choke it away, either to the point of making it interesting or to just flat out lose it. 

They go Leon Lett every single time and never see it coming. It’s amazing for how predictable it is. And the only thing that was unpredictable about this version was how terrible it was. Again, from 3-1 up to 5-3 down in a matter of hours. How every American Ryder Cup of them.