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Foursomes Clean Sweep Hands Europe Ryder Cup Lead

Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood were the stars for Europe on day one of the Ryder Cup in Paris (Photo: Getty Images)
A clean sweep of the afternoon foursomes has seen Thomas Bjorn’s European team grab a two-point lead at the conclusion of a gripping first day of the 42nd Ryder Cup in Paris.

A disastrous morning session of four-ball play saw the US team take the early ascendancy with a hard fought 3-1 scoreline but Bjorn’s men fought back in the afternoon with some inspired play.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Open champion Francesco Molinari proved the standout performers of the European side claiming two points from their two matches accounting for some of the game’s biggest stars along the way.

Having secured Europe’s only point in the morning with a gritty 3&1 win over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed they took just 14 holes to dispatch Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth after the break to put the finishing touches on an inspirational turnaround.

Bjorn was clearly delighted with the effort and while acknowleding the play of his two best performers was quick to point out it was a team effort.

“We believe in it as a group,” he said. “There were a few guys sitting out this morning that you normally see in the first session, but they were very keen to go out and play this afternoon and prove that we are a team and we do it with all 12.

“But we're one team and did it with all 12 today. That was the plan through the whole week. We wanted to get everybody on the golf course today and we did that.

“Those guys that sat out this morning, I'm very proud of what they did because they came out and showed quality and class in what they did. This was obviously a wonderful afternoon, disappointing morning, but there's a long way to go in this.

“We go home with a good taste in our mouth tonight and then we regroup for tomorrow.”

His opposite number Jim Furyk was disappointed with the day’s final scoreline but said he was confident his team of stars would hit back on day two.

“I guess two tales,” he said of how the day played out. “We got the momentum in the morning, out 3-1. Europe flipped it quickly and got some unbelievable momentum in the afternoon for 4-0.

"You know, you've got to look at it, we played for eight points so far out of 28. The event's still pretty young.

“If we would have lost both sides 2 1/2-1 1/2 and this thing were 5-3, we would still be in the same place, but I'm sure there would be - you know, y'all would probably have a little bit different look on your face about how it happened.”

With Tiger Woods sitting out the afternoon session for the first time in his Ryder Cup career there was speculation on site that the former World Number One had injured his back but Furyk denied that claim.

“I have not heard that he's had a back problem, so that is - I would say that that's not true,” he said when asked in his post round press conference.

“You'd have to ask Tiger, but no, I saw him out on the golf course. He said he was all good. I don't remember him having - I mean, he was actually out practising tonight after the matches.

“I think any time Tiger draws so much attention - any time Tiger doesn't play, or maybe he stretches a little bit, everyone gets a little hypersensitive that he might have a back issue.

“But I am not aware of anything like that, and I didn't get any information like that from Tiger or my vice captains, so I don't believe that's true.”

The Americans made a strong start when Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler claimed the first point in the second group of the day with a 4&2 win over a struggling Rory McIlroy and rookie Thorbjorn Olesen.

But the real momentum changer came in the top match when Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau salvaged a win from what looked like a certain European point against Justin Rose and Jon Rahm.

The American pair never led in the match until holing out on the 18th and when Justin Tomas and Jordan Spieth won a hard fought point against Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, also at the 18th, things looked dire for the Europeans.

Molinari and Fleetwood were the only bright spot in the morning with their victory over Woods and Reed and they earned the anchor role in the afternoon as a reward.

Things could hardly have been more different in the second session as the Europeans claimed every match before reaching the 17th tee and by day’s end looked in control of the tournament.

However, Bjorn was quick to note the job is far from done and to never count out he American team.

“These two teams are tough,” he said. ”They really are, and they are going to fight this out hard all the way till the end, and you can't give anything away, and even when you walk around this afternoon and you're up so much in matches, you just feel like, try and get it done because this American Team is very strong.

“We wake up tomorrow and we fight again and that's what's ahead of us.”

Tomorrow’s fourball morning matches are already set with Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia first out against Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka while Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton will have a rematch with Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed have a chance to avenge their first day loss when they take on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood again, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth to play the anchor match against Jon Rahm and Ian Poulter.

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