Crushing foursomes sweep puts Europe 5-3 ahead

Fleetwood tees off during the afternoon session as he helped defeat American pairing Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas (AFP pic)

PARIS: Europe produced a barnstorming Ryder Cup comeback on Friday as they swept the foursomes in devastating style to take an overnight 5-3 lead after the United States has drawn first blood by taking the fourballs 3-1.

It was the first time Europe had won all four foursomes matches – having suffered a 4-0 reverse in the format en route to defeat in Hazeltine two years ago – and their first sweep in either format since 1989.

But it was not just the points tally that will have sent European captain Thomas Bjorn off to dinner on a high, but the crushing nature of the victories as the home team dealt much better with the strong wind that developed through the afternoon as many of the big name Americans fell apart.

Sergio Garcia and rookie Alex Noren annihilated Phil Mickelson and first-timer Bryson Dechambeau 5 and 4 in a battle between four men rested in the morning.

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who won Europe’s solitary fourballs point, completed a memorable day by smashing Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 5 and 4.

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson reunited their highly successful partnership to hammer Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 3 and 2 having been 5-up after 11.

Ian Poulter and Rory McIlory, who was badly off form in the morning, came from 2-down to triumph 4 and 2 over Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson in a game that had the massive crowds finally roaring after they had little to shout about in the morning.

The US, seeking a first overseas win in 25 years, had the better of a topsy-turvy fourballs session, with Spieth particularly impressive when he and Thomas beat Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton 1-up.

World number one Johnson and Fowler notched the first point of the first Ryder Cup to be held in France, 4 and 2 against McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen.

Tony Finau took advantage of a huge slice of luck on the 16th as he and Brooks Koepka came from 2-down to beat Rose and Jon Rahm on the 18th.

There was no fairytale comeback for Tiger Woods, however, on his return after missing the last two Ryder Cups as he and Patrick Reed lost 3 and 1 to Molinari and Fleetwood.

The result took Woods’ fourball record to nine defeats from 12 games. Having sat out only one session in his previous seven Ryder Cups, he was then stood down from the foursomes.