GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy — If there was any silver lining for the United States team after Friday’s opening session of the 44th Ryder Cup team at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, it’s that most golf fans back home probably slept through its miserable beatdown by the European team.
The Europeans swept four foursomes (alternate-shot) matches to go 4-0 in the Friday morning session for the first time in Ryder Cup history. It was complete domination by the European team, which is trying to reclaim the trophy after falling 19-9 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 2021. The U.S. failed to hold a lead in any of the morning matches.
It is only the fourth time the European team has gone unbeaten in a session overall. It’s the first time since 2006 that the European team has had a lead after the first session. It won the Ryder Cup 18½-9½ that year at the K Club in Straffan, Ireland.
“We are off to a great start this morning,” Ireland’s Shane Lowry said. “We need to keep the foot down. Look, we are very happy with our start today, and obviously there’s a lot of golf to be played from here. We talked about getting off to a fast start, and we have done that.”
The American team, which is hoping to end its 30-year drought in Ryder Cups played outside the U.S., has plenty of work to do with 24 matches to play. The U.S. team needs 14 points to retain the trophy; the Europeans need 14½ to win it back.
Rahm and Hatton grabbed control of the top match on the third hole and never gave it back. Rahm made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 third hole to go 1 up. He made another 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fifth. Then on the par-3 seventh, Rahm’s tee shot hit the pin and his ball stopped 2 feet from the hole.
The American duo had a chance to get one back on the 10th, but Rahm chipped in from off the green to save par and halve the hole. The Europeans made a birdie on the 11th and an eagle on the 12th, and the match was all but over.
Scheffler and Burns, who are close friends, fell to 0-3-1 when playing together in international competition. They went 0-2-1 as a tandem at the Presidents Cup in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2022.
Hovland, the reigning FedEx Cup champion from Norway, set the tone on the very first hole. After Aberg pushed his second shot about 35 feet right of the pin, Hovland chipped in from on the green and made a 9-footer for birdie to win the hole. On the next hole, Hovland made a 9-foot birdie putt to go 2 up.
Harman and Homa won the next two holes to tie the match, but the Europeans didn’t go down without a fight. Hovland’s chip shot on No. 3 bounced off the pin; Aberg’s chip on No. 4 lipped out of the hole. It was that kind of a match for the Americans. Aberg, a Ryder Cup rookie and former Texas Tech star, made birdie putts of 12 feet on No. 6 and 14 feet on No. 9 to go 3 up.
“Obviously, they played really well,” Homa said. “We didn’t have a ton of opportunities, and when we did, unfortunately we didn’t capitalize. I mean, they played really good.”
In the third match, U.S. Ryder Cup veteran Rickie Fowler missed an 8-foot putt that would have won the hole. That’s how the rest of the round went for Fowler and two-time major winner Collin Morikawa in a 2 and 1 loss to Lowry and Austria’s Sepp Straka.
The European pair went 2 up after four holes and then won three straight holes, Nos. 7 to 9, to go 4 in front. Fowler and Morikawa fought back to win a couple of holes late, but it wasn’t enough.
Even the normally reliable pairing of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele couldn’t do much on Friday in a 2 and 1 loss to Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and England’s Tommy Fleetwood. The U.S. tandem was 1 down at the turn and 2 down after 11 holes. The Americans pulled to within 1 on Schauffele’s 12-foot birdie putt on No. 14. On the next hole, Schauffele missed a 4-footer for par. The Europeans won the hole and went 2 up in the match.
Play will resume with four four-ball (best ball) matches on Friday. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas play Hovland and Hatton at 6:25 a.m. ET; Scheffler and Brooks Koepka face Rahm and Nicolai Hojgaard at 6:40 a.m. ET; Homa and U.S. Open winner Wyndham Clark take on Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose at 6:55 a.m. ET; and Morikawa and Schauffele face McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick at 7:10 a.m. ET.