SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES: Europe prepared for a strong comeback bid from the United States as day two of the Ryder Cup began Saturday morning with the hosts owning a 5-3 edge ahead of four fourball matches.
The Europeans swept a foursomes session for the first time on Friday afternoon, rallying for a two-point lead from the opening day at Le Golf National and stunning the Americans.
World number six Rory McIlroy, who joined Ian Poulter in beating Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 4 and 2 in foursomes, expects a heated US challenge.
“We know we’re going to have to come out on fire this morning,” McIlroy said. “The Americans aren’t going to be happy. They are going to come out looking for revenge and we’re going to have to play well to counter that.”
Asked about the team’s mood last night, McIlroy replied, “It was good. I wouldn’t say we got overexcited.”
US captain Jim Furyk said his side was not distraught at the early stumble.
“There was no dark cloud in the room,” Furyk said. “A lot of work left to do for us. We will shake things up in the foursomes.”
European captain Thomas Bjørn went with experienced pairings to open day two, starting with four-time major winner McIlroy and 2017 Masters champion Sergio García against Tony Finau and third-ranked Brooks Koepka, this year’s US Open and PGA Championship winner.
“They will come strong and give us a good go. We expect some tough matches out there,” Bjørn said. “We’re quite happy with the way it went yesterday and so we’ll go again.”
Bjørn did his best to keep the team focused on the work to be done and not the final goal.
“You’ve got to stay with the plan. You have got to go through it,” the Dane said. “It all swings back to you. You have to keep everyone focused on what is right in front of you and not what’s going to happen on Sunday night.”
Italy’s Francesco Molinari, the reigning British Open champion, and England’s Tommy Fleetwood are rematched against 14-time major winner Tiger Woods and reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, whom they beat on the way to a 2-0 start to their Cup.
Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton were paired again against top-ranked Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
Poulter will join Spain’s Jon Rahm in facing Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
“We’re obviously enjoying the fact of winning an afternoon session 4-0,” Poulter said.
“What that does to the American team, I’m not really sure… it’s not a nice feeling. You just have to pick yourself up and go back out and try and turn it around.”