What a first day for The Ryder Cup! Of all of the Ryder Cups I have watched I have never witness an opening day like today. It had all the action of a final day, with twists and turns including an 18th hole turn around that saw the USA team lead 3-1 after the mornings 4 balls. With the board looking pretty blue early on it seemed that Europe would cruise to a morning lead and talk of bringing the trophy home had already begun. The excitement was short lived as the USA fought back late on to win 3 out of the 4 matches.
It would have been easy for Europe to ponder what could have been after such a fast start to the morning only to let the lead slip. But this is The Ryder Cup and we should all be well aware now of the twists it can cough up. Europe came flying out of the blocks as Garcia and Noren went 5 up on Mickelson and Dechambeu after just 6 holes! It wasn’t long before McIlroy and Poulter were in the the act dropping putts from all over the green. It seemed as though team Europe were more fired up from getting themselves in tough positions and the idea of winning a hole when they looked out of the running only fired them up more. There was a confidence to the way the European players were walking from hole to hole and a complete opposite feeling coming from the USA team, which is surprising due to the finish to the morning they had, you would have expected to see them come racing out of the traps.
It must be worse for the USA team being behind after day 1 as it looked so bright for them early on. It really takes the stuffing out of you when leading for so long only to get slaughtered in the afternoons play. As for team Europe the confidence is well and truly flowing and I can only see tomorrow going one way unless something changes drastically for team USA.
Another day of great golf with history being made. The day had everything, including a mini revival from team USA. The day started off how many would have imagined after yesterday with Europe making all the early moves and the board completely covered in blue. Europe were flowing with confidence and did not look like slowing down at any point.
At one point it looked like Europe were going to close out the first 3 matches by the 15th hole but a few good holes from team USA towards the end got some nerves flowing in team Europe. Although Garcia and McIlroy showed no nerves on the 17th hole, after it looked as though they would have to hold out on the 18th for a win after being 4 up. But McIlroy held a long range putt for par in order to give Garcia the confidence to attack the hole for birdie. Garcia had a more difficult putt than the Americans but with the knowledge that McIlroy had already secured par for the team, Garcia was able to take the shot with no consequences. When Garcia made the putt the pressure was well and truly on team USA and they missed to give us the first point of the day. This fired up Garcia is someone we have witnessed over many Ryder Cups and got me thinking, when can we start holding in the same regard as the top players in this competition? His points tally is 3rd highest ever and will most likely be the highest after tomorrow’s round. He is a joy to watch and strikes the ball so effortlessly, giving the impression that anyone could pick up a club and do what he does. I was unfortunate not to see Seve play in a Ryder Cup but I’m sure we can place Garcia in the same category as him.
One thing I’ve noticed about the Ryder Cup over the years is the team that usually wins is the team that embraces those nervy moments as a chance to become a hero of the cup. A will to want to be in a position where no one gives you a chance and you just pull it out the bag to send the crowd into ecstasy. And one player that certainly embraced that today is Tommy Fleetwood. He was energetic, ruthless and confident throughout and had the guidance of a Ryder Cup professional in Molinari. This competition just suits certain players and one of them is Tommy Fleetwood. You have to step up when it matters and take risks in order to beat your opponent for that much coveted point. His character just suits the way the Ryder Cup is played and I can see him being a mainstay in the team for years to come.
Team USA are most certainly not out of this and they can thank the pairing of Speith and Thomas for that. They were class today and showed how we expect team USA to play. They held putts when it mattered most and did not let a nervy finish deter them from stopping Europe’s run of points scoring. The young pair played some fine golf to keep their team within in the competition and you can see why Thomas has been sent out first tomorrow to put the seed of doubt in the minds of team Europe. McIlroy will need to be at the top of his game tomorrow in order to stop Thomas.
This all leads to an exciting final day of golf in this years Ryder Cup. After looking at the matches I can see Europe gaining 7 points and USA taking 5, leaving the final total 17-11 to team Europe. But then again this is the Ryder Cup and after the Miracle at Medinah, I believe anything can happen.
The Ryder Cup always brings an added excitement to the world of golf. It seems to attract a lot more interest than the majors throughout the year. On the eve of the 2018 Ryder Cup it is clear to see why it is highly anticipated, with the generic golfers clap thrown out the window and instead you have the return of arguably one of the best Ryder Cup players of all time in Ian Poulter ready to rock the first tee. All golf etiquette goes out of the window with friendly banter between the teams but there is still the mutual respect between the two teams for all to admire. The first tee is a place of football songs and nerves that golfers have never experienced before, maybe due to the fact they will be competing as a team instead of for themselves. The first tee brings a different level of focus with Rory McIlroy quoting that it could be something as small as not being able to get the ball to rest on the tee the first time to set the seed of doubt, an all too familiar feeling to us amateur golfers!
As I sit here thinking of the Ryder Cup I do not think about who will be the winner come Sunday but more about the moments of magic it will produce. I think about who is going to step up and make the long putts, who is going to chip in from distance and who is going to play that shot that turns a certain loss into winning a point on the 18th. With the Ryder Cup you just know the weekend will consist of moments like Rose sinking a 15 foot putt to level things up with Mickelson or Poulter chipping in followed up by his trademark first pump. It’s not just about individual golfing moments though, it’s also about team cohesion. We have witnessed events such as “The Miracle at Medinah” where team Europe over came a 6 point deficit on the final day or the emotion of Darren Clarke playing as a wildcard pick in 2006, just three months after losing his wife and even team Europe taking a dive into the water at The Belfry 2002. Whatever happens this weekend one thing is for sure is that we will be entertained with magic moments and we will feel just as a part of the team from our sofa as the players that are playing.