Ryder Cup 2016: Team USA take an early 4-0 lead

The hosts dominated the opening foursomes against their European counterparts.

Ryder Cup 2016: Team USA take an early 4-0 lead
Team USA are in buoyant mood (photo: The Guardian)

In front of a raucous Hazeltine National crowd, Team USA dominated the challenging course from start to finish as the opening round of foursomes set the 2016 version of the famous competition on its way.

Team Europe are chasing a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory but have left themselves a lot of work to do after a disastrous opening four matches.

Team USA take control on the front nine...

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed set the hosts on their way as they became the first pair to get to grips with the course. Two birdies on the opening three holes gave them daylight early on, as best friends Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose struggled to settle into their game.

The Team Europe representatives would have fancied their chances after securing a Major and Olympic gold between them this year, but took until hole 11 to register a birdie.

They had registered a hole victory by that point when Spieth and Reed dropped a shot on nine, but the Americans had also taken the bragging rights on hole seven.

The quartet remained locked in battle as they continued to cancel each other out, before the Americans secured victory with two holes to spare as they holed a birdie on 16.

Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar followed their teammates' trend as they dominated the opening nine holes on the re-routed course. The pair raced into a two hole lead as Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters dropped shots on the opening two holes, with the former in particular struggling to find his range.

American wins on five, seven and eight put the contest almost beyond doubt before the turn as Johnson and Kuchar gave themselves a five hole advantage.

The Europeans responded on hole nine, but that was cancelled out as they dropped a shot and hole on 13, with the Americans sealing the victory a hole later with a lot of credit reserved for the putting of Johnson.

...Before continuing the pattern on the back nine

Team USA success was not only due to a dominant front nine, as their middle two pairs took control on the more picturesque section of the course with the clubhouse coming into sight.

Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler against Rory McIlory and Andy Sullivan was one of the most eye-catching contests on paper and it certainly did not disappoint.

The Europeans took a two hole lead with birdies on four and six, only to be pegged back by similar scores for the Americans on seven and eight. Another birdie on nine gave Team USA the lead, before Team Europe clicked oncemore with hole wins on 11, 12 and 14.

McIlory's frustrations summed up the Team Europe mood (photo: The Guardian)
McIlory's frustrations summed up the Team Europe mood (photo: The Guardian)

Mickelson has unprecedented major championship golfing pedigree, but has only come back from two shots down on two occassions in Ryder Cup history.

Yet 'Leftie', who had struggled to find the fairways with his driving, made one last push with Fowler as three consecutive hole wins and a halved 18 ensured they won another point for the hosts.

Not one birdie was found in Match 3 until hole 13, as Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson took on Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer. By the time the Americans had holed that putt, both teams had edged a hole apiece.

Yet victory on 12, followed by that birdie on 13 was to spearhead an American acceleration as they cruised to a 4 and 2 win.

Birdies on 14 and 16, surrounding a par on 15, secured five consecutive hole wins for Team USA against a lacklustre Team Europe pair who did not register one single birdie.

Garcia was certainly off form and Kaymer's morning was summed up by a mishit chip shot that made just a yard from the rough. In truth it was to represent the whole of Team Europe's start to the competition.