How the first-day Ryder Cup matches were won and lost

Thomas Pieters gestures to the crowd on his way to victory with Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine. Picture: Getty Images

Thomas Pieters gestures to the crowd on his way to victory with Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine. Picture: Getty Images

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It was a thrilling opening day at Hazeltine and here’s how the matches were fought out.

Foursomes

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed bt Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson 3&2

The two Americans were one of Tom Watson’s few successes at Gleneagles, winning two and a half points from three there two years ago, and took up where they left off then by claiming a notable scalp. The European pair had been Paul McGinley’s star partnership in Perthshire, winning three out of three, but they just never clicked on this occasion, whereas their opponents were on fire. Reed and Spieth were four-under for the holes played, clinching victory in style with a birdie at the 16th.

Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler bt Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan one hole

The European duo were going along nicely in this one, leading by two holes, until McIlroy’s approach at the seventh caught a tree and ended up in a hazard. They still looked to be on course for a point, standing two up with five to play, before a costly three-putt at the 15th. That allowed the Americans to draw level again in a real topsy-turvy affair before they also won the next two holes.

Mickelson made up for a wild drive with a brilliant approach at the 16th before Sullivan found water at the next.

Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson bt Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer 4&2

Paired together for the first time, Garcia and Kaymer edged ahead at the second in a somewhat nervy affair and still led narrowly with seven holes to go. However, the Americans then won five holes in a row from the 12th – three of them with birdies – to take the remaining bit of blue from the scoreboard in the morning. Johnson later admitted that a par putt holed by his partner at the ninth to stop them going two down had been the catalyst for the turnaround.

Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar bt Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters 5&4

This American pairing secured two points for Davis Love at Medinah four years ago and the decision to reunite them – Johnson missed out at Gleneagles in 2014 due to serving a PGA Tour ban – was vindicated straight away. Admittedly helped by a poor performance from their opponents – Westwood was badly out of sorts while rookie Pieters looked nervous – they quickly went two up and had the point in the bag from the moment that lead increased to five after just seven holes.

Fourballs

Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson bt Jordan Spith/Patrick Reed 5&4

In a rematch from the morning, the Europeans gained sweet revenge by winning a high-quality encounter. Up early on and making six birdies between them, the Americans were blown away as Rose and Stenson covered the 14 holes played in nine-under-par, with the Swede making three birdies in a row from the sixth.

Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello bt J B Holmes/Ryan Moore 3&2

The two Spaniards really hit it off in their first outing together, with Cabrera Bello settling whatever nerves he may have been feeling with an opening hole-winning birdie. He also won the sixth for them with a birdie to put Europe three up before Garcia played his part with three birdies in a row from the ninth. The Americans threatened a fightback when they won the 14th and 15th with birdies before Garcia, with a 4 at the 16th, closed the match out.

Brant Snedker/Brooks Koepka bt Martin Kaymer/Danny Willett 5&4

Rookie Koepka found his feet straight away, matching a Willett birdie at the first then making another one at the third after Snedeker had put the Americans in front with a 3 at the previous hole. Willett’s only other birdie came at the ninth, giving Europe their sole success in a match where Kaymer failed to make a single birdie.

Rory McIlroy/Thomas Pieters bt Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar 3&2

The Americans had won both their fourball matches at Medinah in 2012 and must have been feeling confident about adding to that tally after their morning success. However, they ran into a formidable new European pairing. Pieters showed exactly why he landed one of Darren Clarke’s picks by winning three holes with birdies with McIlroy making four birdies before sealing the success in style by making an eagle-3 from 20 feet at the 16th.

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