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Ryder Cup 2016: Friday Leaderboard Scores and Highlights

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2016

CHASKA, MN - SEPTEMBER 30:  Patrick Reed of the United States reacts after a putt on the third hole during afternoon fourball matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on September 30, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After falling behind 4-0 Friday in morning foursomes, Europe mounted a comeback in afternoon four-balls, but the United States closed out the first day of play in the 2016 Ryder Cup with a 5-3 lead at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. 

The Americans got their pursuit of their first Ryder Cup win since 2008 off to a perfect start in foursomes, but Team Europe made things interesting and put itself back in position to potentially defend its crown.

Here is a look at the current scoreboard and a recap of how the action has played out thus far on American soil.

              

Current Scoreboard

Ryder Cup Score Thru Afternoon Four-Balls
AwayHomeScore
EuropeUSA5-3, USA
RyderCup.com
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Morning Foursomes Recap

Ryder Cup Morning Foursomes Results
Winning TeamLosing TeamScore
Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (USA)Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (EUR)3 & 2
Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar (USA)Thomas Pieters/Lee Westwood (EUR)5 & 4
Zach Johnson/Jimmy Walker (USA)Sergio Garcia/Martin Kaymer (EUR)4 & 2
Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler (USA)Rory McIlroy/Andy Sullivan1 Up
RyderCup.com

The United States struggled in Ryder Cup foursomes play two years ago, but it quickly flipped the script Friday by jumping all over the Europeans.

It started with the talented pairing of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed defeating Olympic gold and silver medalists Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson in the premier matchup of the morning 3 and 2.

Spieth and Reed won the second and third holes, and after taking No. 7, they held a commanding 3 up lead. Rose and Stenson managed to get one back on the ninth, but after six consecutive halves, the Americans closed it out by winning the 16th hole, as seen in this video courtesy of Ryder Cup USA on Twitter:

Ryder Cup USA @RyderCupUSA

First win of the day for 🇺🇸 https://t.co/Ty0j6aUgaR

By virtue of that victory, the United States had already bettered its result in the foursomes format from 2014, per ESPN's Trey Wingo:

trey wingo @wingoz

USA has already won more alternate shot matches this Ryder Cup than they did in all of 2014

Team USA then took a 2-0 lead on a match that appeared to be a big mismatch on paper. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar made quick work of Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood, obliterating them 5 and 4 in a contest that was never competitive.

Kuchar put an exclamation point on the match, as the Olympic bronze medalist coolly drilled the following putt to halve the 14th hole and win the match:

Ryder Cup USA @RyderCupUSA

And another one✔️ Dustin and Kuch win 5&4 to put more red on the board. https://t.co/kT2QzYEvfk

The reigning U.S. Open champion and Kuchar barely gave Pieters and Westwood a chance to breathe, as they won the first two holes of the match and were up by five through eight.

Following the loss, Westwood placed the blame on his shoulders, via the European Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup Europe @RyderCupEurope

Westwood: "I take responsibility for that. I played poorly today. Thomas played well, showed some balls & make some good putts" #TeamEurope

As impressive as DJ and Kuchar were, the pairing of Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson raised eyebrows even more by dominating in the clutch against Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.

The Spanish and German tandem held a 1 up lead from hole No. 2 through hole No. 11 until the Americans took complete control by winning five consecutive hole to win 4 and 2 and put the United States up 3-0.

Garcia lamented the fact that he and Kaymer didn't take advantage of opportunities to build upon their early lead, via the European Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup Europe @RyderCupEurope

Garcia: "When you have chances, you've got to take them. Go 2-up, maybe it's different, but unfortunately we didn't & they did." #TeamEurope

The most entertaining and competitive match of the early session pitted Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler against Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy, who was fresh off winning the FedEx Cup in dramatic fashion.

Sullivan and McIlroy led by two after six holes, but Lefty and Fowler won the next three to take a one-hole advantage.

That included this spectacular chip-in from Fowler on No. 9, via the United States Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup USA @RyderCupUSA

And the crowd goes wild! Fowler/Mickelson go 1 up through 9. #GoUSA https://t.co/JGjS5uswXg

The Americans had all the momentum on their side at that point, but Sullivan and McIlroy battled back to take three of the next five holes.

That left Mickelson and Fowler down by two with four holes left to play, and they responded in a big way by winning each of the next three holes to secure the match following this miss by the Europeans, via the United States Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup USA @RyderCupUSA

Rickie and Phil come back from 2 down to win the final match 1 up. 👊🏽 #GoUSA! https://t.co/UL4Lrm6Bb4

Both Mickelson and Fowler entered the day under a lot of pressure due to a lack of Ryder Cup success over the years, and Fowler was in an especially tough spot since many questioned his place on the team.

As ESPN.com's Jason Sobel pointed out, however, Fowler rose to the occasion in a huge spot:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

That's gotta be some sweet vindication for Rickie Fowler. Criticized for being a pick, criticized for no previous RC wins. Finally gets one.

A loss or halve by Mickelson and Fowler still would have left the Americans in great position, but the come-from-behind victory ensured they were in total control.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, teams that have charged out to a 4-0 lead in Ryder Cup play have a history of hoisting the trophy:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

3rd time in #RyderCup history (first since 1975) a team swept 1st session. Previous 2 times, that team won Cup (U.S. both times; also 1947)

Although there is plenty of golf left to be played, the United States shifted the pressure onto the shoulders of Europe by playing so well to start the event.

It can't afford to take its foot off the gas pedal, but going up 4-0 gave it some margin for error as the intensity begins to pick up.

Afternoon Four-Balls Recap

Ryder Cup Afternoon Four-Balls Results
Winning TeamLosing TeamScore
Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (EUR)Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (USA)5 & 4
Brandt Snedeker/Brooks Koepka (USA)Martin Kaymer/Danny Willett (EUR)5 & 4
Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello (EUR)J.B. Holmes/Ryan Moore (USA)3 & 2
Rory McIlroy/Thomas Pieters (EUR)Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar (USA)3 & 2
RyderCup.com

Europe got back on track in afternoon four-balls, and it was due largely to a bounce-back performance by the pairing of Rose and Stenson.

They took on Spieth and Reed in a rematch from the morning, but the result was much different the second time around, as the Euros dominated to the tune of a 5 and 4 victory.

After Spieth and Reed took the lead on the first hole, Rose and Stenson went on to win three of the next seven holes, including the par-three eighth, which saw the Swede nearly nail an ace, via the European Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup Europe @RyderCupEurope

"He's finding his range now!" #TeamEurope https://t.co/d3Gvh62dNs

The pairings made the turn with Rose and Stenson leading by two, but that wasn't a negative reflection of the Americans.

As pointed out by Sobel, Spieth and Reed were playing well, but Rose and Stenson were simply on another level:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed played the front-nine in 4-under -- and are 2-down. They're getting Stenson'd.

The European tandem turned it on even more on the back nine, though, by taking the 12th, 13th and 14th holes to close out the match in convincing fashion.

As seen in the following tweet, Rose and Stenson played what was essentially a flawless four-ball contest:

Ryder Cup Europe @RyderCupEurope

14 holes. 9 birdies. 0 bogeys. 1 point. #TeamEurope https://t.co/SLkTSLCsJD

Following their slip-up earlier in the day, Rose and Stenson reestablished themselves as Europe's go-to team, as evidenced by their record together dating back to 2014, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig:

Bob Harig @BobHarig

Stenson/Rose now 4-1 over past two Ryder Cups; Spieth/Reed 3-1-1

Their showing got the ball rolling for Europe and began its effort to dig out of the hole created by a 4-0 deficit.

Although the afternoon was primarily about Europe getting back into contention, Team USA did have one positive development in the form of Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka forming a dynamite team.

Both Snedeker and Koepka sat out the morning session, but they showed no signs of rust in steamrolling Kaymer and Masters champion Danny Willett 5 and 4.

Kaymer struggled alongside Garcia in foursomes, and he continued to play poorly in four-balls, as Willett was primarily responsible for any headway the team made:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Nine holes down and Martin Kaymer has registered a score on exactly zero holes. Danny Willett's back is hurting from carrying him.

Snedeker and Koepka won four of the first eight holes and made the turn with a 3 up advantage. The four-hole lead was then restored by Snedeker with the following putt on No. 10, via the United States Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup USA @RyderCupUSA

Sneds stretches the lead to 4 #RyderCup #GoUSA https://t.co/4yksmIxqeg

After winning No. 11 and halving the next three holes, Snedeker and Koepka came out on the winning end.

Snedeker was spectacular on the greens, and he believed that he complemented Koepka's all-around game effectively, per Sobel:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Brandt Snedeker after win: "My job was to make putts and let Brooks Koepka do what he does." They both did what they do.

With the Americans gaining a point, it shifted the pressure back to Europe's final two teams of the day to hold their leads.

After Garcia's shaky morning outing with Kaymer, he was paired with Spanish countryman Rafa Cabrera Bello in the afternoon session, and that move paid dividends.

Garcia and Cabrera Bello jumped out to a 4 up lead over J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore after the front nine, which included this chip-in from Garcia, who was great around the greens in four-ballsvia the European Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup Europe @RyderCupEurope

El Niño strikes! #TeamEurope https://t.co/KPwvT2h8SF

After the teams halved the first four holes on the back nine, the chances of Holmes and Moore mounting a comeback were slim.

They started to chip away at Europe's lead, however, by winning the 14th hole and following that up with a win at No. 15 thanks to this clutch birdie putt by Moorevia the United States Ryder Cup team on Twitter:

Ryder Cup USA @RyderCupUSA

Ryan Moore giving the crowd something to cheer about! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 #GoUSA https://t.co/kPbHaKlXkM

The Americans were two down with three to play, but their bid to overcome the deficit started a bit too late, as Garcia and Cabrera Bello took No. 16 to win 3 and 2.

The final match of the day featured McIlroy and Pieters taking on the team of Johnson and Kuchar.

Both McIlroy and Pieters lost their foursomes matches earlier, but they were victims of their partners playing less than stellar golf.

That was no longer an issue for them in four-balls, as the Northern Irish and Belgian tandem played fantastically and jumped out to a 4 up lead through just seven holes.

Johnson and Kuchar attempted to battle back by winning the 11th, 14th and 15th holes, but they entered No. 16 facing a two-hole deficit.

Blowing the lead could have been crushing for the Europeans and the momentum they built, but McIlroy didn't allow that to happen, as the four-time major champion buried an eagle to win the match and celebrated in demonstrative fashion, as seen in this video from PGA.com:

PGA.COM @PGAcom

Eagle for the win! #TeamEurope https://t.co/oFfdVJUmYc

After the victory, McIlroy explained that he let out a great deal of emotion to counter the raucousness of the pro-American crowd:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Rory McIlroy: "It was hostile out there. Reactions like that on the last, I just want to let people know how much it means to us."

While Europe still enters Day 2 with some catching up left to be done, the fact that it didn't let the competition get away after falling behind 4-0 was likely a huge confidence boost.

The Americans are now the ones left with questions to answer, so it is key for them to get off to another fast start Saturday.

                

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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