SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Europe just found another dominant duo.
Sure, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson fit that bill. Those two combined to win for the fifth time together in the Ryder Cup on Friday afternoon in foursomes by defeating Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, 3 and 2.
But even better than that for Europe was Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, who were their team’s brightest lights by winning both matches against top American teams on Day 1 at Le Golf National. Molinari and Fleetwood took down Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, 3 and 1, in morning fourballs then dusted Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, 5 and 4, in afternoon foursomes.
“I think we just combine really well,” said Molinari, The Open champion. “The boys that went out early this afternoon made an unbelievable job. Very, very different from this morning, the atmosphere. And we needed it.”
Europe swept the afternoon foursomes session 4-0 and leads 5-3 overall.
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“We were walking down 6 and we said, ‘sounds a little better this afternoon’ and the energy that comes off those guys going in front, I don’t really know how to describe it,” said Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup rookie. “All the preparation you do, just nothing gets you ready for this.”
Both played extremely well all day, from start to finish. Woods and Reed went 2 up after 10 but Fleetwood’s putter caught fire when he needed it most and Europe pulled away with Molinari closing out the match with a birdie on the 17th hole.
The afternoon was more of the same. Although Thomas and Spieth didn’t play particularly well, the European duo kept pressure on by hitting fairways and greens until the match was out of reach.
“It’s great but we need to put the hat back on for tomorrow and reset quickly,” Molinari said. “They are going to come out strongly tomorrow, so there’s no time to celebrate when there’s still a job to be done.”