Finau’s Big Break Carries US to Early Lead in Ryder Cup
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — A slat of wood gave the Americans a most unlikely break and carried them to a 3-1 lead after the opening sessions of the Ryder Cup.
Europe's only point was beating Tiger Woods.
No shot resonated more across Le Golf National than Tony Finau's at the par-3 16th. Finau and Brooks Koepka were 1-down when his tee shot appeared to come up short. Instead, it smacked into the wooden frame separating the green from the water, shot high in the air and landed 3 feet from the hole for a birdie to square the match.
Justin Rose hit into the water on the 18th to make bogey, and Koepka secured a par for a 1-up victory. The U.S. never led in the match until it won.
The Americans got off to the start they wanted before the European crowd, who were out in numbers and filled the massive grandstand that seats just under 7,000 around the first tee.
It was the second straight time the Americans got out to a big lead, having swept all four matches at Hazeltine two years ago on their way to a rare victory in these matches.
Tommy Fleetwood, one of four Europeans making a Ryder Cup debut, kept it from being another shutout by teaming with British Open champion Francesco Molinari for a 3-and-1 victory over Woods and Patrick Reed.
Fleetwood made back-to-back birdies to square the match through 12 holes, and then made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole for the lead. He followed with a 35-foot birdie putt, crouching to watch as it broke into the cup. Molinari closed them out with a birdie on the 17th.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, teammates again in France, seized control early when Spieth holed putts and chips. Paul Casey rallied with three straight birdies to square the match before Thomas delivered a key shot over the water to 6 feet on the 15th for a birdie.
Spieth and Thomas, whose friendship took root when they played for the U.S. at the Evian Junior Masters in 2007, held the lead to the end. Tyrrell Hatton missed a 20-foot birdie attempt on the 18th, and Spieth rolled in his 3-foot par putt for a 1-up victory.
Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler had the easiest match of the morning, thanks in part to a flat performance by Rory McIlroy, who didn't contribute a single birdie playing alongside Danish rookie Thorbjorn Olesen.
Johnson missed a 5-foot par putt to fall 1-down through eight holes. Fowler gave the Americans their first lead with a birdie on the 10th, and then Johnson birdied the next two holes for a 3-up lead. Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, closed out the 4-and-2 victory with a tee shot to short range on the 16th for birdie.
Europe has not lost at home in 25 years.