Category Archives: Thomas Bjorn

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Europe Sweeps USA in Foursomes, Takes 5-3 Lead in Ryder Cup

Friday’s opening two sessions of the Ryder Cup could not have been more different. In the cool morning at Le Golf National, the Americans seized the opportunity, utilizing their ball striking and putting to take a 3-1 lead. But in the afternoon, Europe got to work to give the home crowd a lot to cheer about. They never gave the Americans a chance in the alternate shot foursomes. For the first time in Ryder Cup history, the Europeans would win all four Foursomes matches against the Americans, taking a 5-3 lead heading into Saturday.

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“We know it’s a marathon, and we’re delighted with the way the day turned out because it was a fairly tough morning,” said European Captain Thomas Bjorn. “They wanted to go out and prove something this afternoon, and that was nice to see, but it says a lot about the group.”
Europe’s Veterans Shine in Ryder Cup Foursomes
When Captain Bjorn selected Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson as captain’s picks, it came with a large amount of criticism. Garcia has not made a cut of a major championship since he won The Masters in 2017. Henrik Stenson has been battling injuries and has not won a tournament since 2017. And Poulter has always been a streaky player.

But when it comes to the Ryder Cup, these three golfers always raise their games. After being down 3-1 this morning, Bjorn decided to roll with his veterans, hoping that they would be the motivation to turn this Ryder Cup around in Europe’s favour.

The Captain’s gamble had paid off. Garcia, Poulter, and Stenson all won their respective matches by a large margin. Garcia, who was paired with rookie Alex Noren, halved the opening hole against Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. The European pair then went on a tremendous run winning seven of the next eight holes, ultimately winning the match 5&4. Garcia’s Ryder Cup record now improves to 20-11-7 and ties Bernhard Langer for most points earned in foursomes (11.5).

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“I’ve always said it, Ryder Cup, there’s nothing like it,” stated Garcia. “I’ve got an amazing partner. He played amazing. I think the front nine we played, in foursomes and on this course with the wind blowing, was spectacular.
Ian Poulter was the inspiration needed to lift up a bummed Rory McIlroy, who lost his opening Four-Ball match without recording a birdie. After going two down early to Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, Poulter and McIlroy locked in, showcasing their tremendous ball striking and emotion to win 4&2.

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“It’s been a long time since I played a Ryder Cup,” said Poulter. “Four years is a long wait. But the second I got going this morning, I felt good. It’s great to play with Rory. The buzz around the golf course is just incredible.”
Like Poulter was for McIlroy, Henrik Stenson made the impact in getting Justin Rose back on track in the afternoon, after losing on the final hole against Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau in the morning. Stenson and Rose are no strangers to playing with each other at the Ryder Cup. The last two Ryder Cups they have been paired together six times, winning four times. Today was no different, as they dominated Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler at alternate shot, winning 3&2.

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“Obviously when you go out against the world’s best players on the other side, you deserve nothing,” said Rose. “You are to earn every point. Nothing is given out there. For me to come out and play with Henrik, someone I’ve had a lot of success with on the golf course is the perfect scenario for me.”
Americans Can Take Positives Into Saturday
Despite the Americans getting swept in the Foursomes matches, there are positives that can be taken heading into the Saturday session. Tony Finau and Justin Thomas, two rookies at the Ryder Cup, held their own, winning two of their three matches. Jordan Spieth, who had not played the week before in the TOUR Championship, looked brilliant in his morning Four-Ball match, starting to get the putter working again.

But clearly Captain Furyk has to assess what went wrong in the Foursomes matches and get that fixed. Perhaps it was a mistake to play Phil Mickelson or Bubba Watson, who both had trouble hitting the ball in the fairway. Maybe playing Brooks Koepka in the afternoon would have made sense, given that he was demonstrating tremendous shotmaking off the tee and making clutch shots.

The advantage Captain Furyk and Team USA have is that there are still 20 matches left in the Ryder Cup. When down two points in the first session in the past, Team USA has come back to win the Ryder Cup twice before. So Team USA has no reason to worry other than focusing on playing solid golf and making the putts.

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“I think our guys will respond, I really do,” Furyk said hopefully. “Obviously, it’s going to leave a sour taste in their mouth tonight and they have to sleep on that. We’ll come back tomorrow, and I bet we’ll be fine.”
Predictions for Saturday Four-Ball Matches
Europe has every reason to be riding high heading into Saturday. They just swept Team USA in the Foursomes. It appears that they found their dream pair in Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. But the Americans are going to come into tomorrow’s matches with a lot to prove. They will be ready to go with a chip on their shoulder, looking to make a move to prepare for singles on Sunday. Here are my predictions for tomorrow’s Four-Ball matches.

Match #1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Rory McIlroy-Sergio Garcia (US)

Match #2: Dustin Johnson-Rickie Fowler vs. Paul Casey-Tyrell Hatton (US)

Match #3: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Tommy Fleetwood-Francesco Molinari (Europe)

Match #4: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Ian Poulter-Jon Rahm (Half)

Score Heading Into Saturday Foursomes: Europe 6.5 – US 5.5The post Europe Sweeps USA in Foursomes, Takes 5-3 Lead in Ryder Cup appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches

On the eve of the start of the Ryder Cup, Team USA and Europe’s selections for the morning four-ball matches were revealed. Captains Furyk and Bjorn made the vital selections that will pave the way for their teams to have success in the Ryder Cup. Here are the morning four-ball matches that will open the Ryder Cup:

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood

With the golfers set for both squads, here are my five initial thoughts heading into the Ryder Cup Friday Four-Ball matches.
1) Both Europe and USA Lead with Strength
It is clear that both Europe and USA want to get off on the right footing when it comes to who they put into the Four-Ball matches. For the Americans, they included golfers who come into the Ryder Cup with a ton of momentum. Tiger Woods is arriving at this competition, fresh off winning the TOUR Championship. Brooks Koepka has won two major championships this year.

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For the Europeans, who can argue the success Justin Rose has had this year. FedEx Cup Champion. World Number One. Oh, and he has an above .500 record in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy is the other leader for the Europeans, coming into the Ryder Cup with a 9-6-4 career record. Putting the squad’s two top golfers in the first two matches sends a message that Europe wants to get the early lead and set the tone early in this competition.
2) Older Veterans Are Sitting
In the past, normally it would be the older veterans to start for the squads, to galvanize the respective teams. But in this Ryder Cup, both the Americans and Europeans are sitting their older players for future sessions. The USA is sitting Phil Mickelson, playing in his 12th Ryder Cup. Europe is resting Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, both of whom have played pivotal roles in victorious European Ryder Cup teams in the past.

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But can you blame Captains Furyk and Bjorn for their decisions? Since being selected as a Captain’s Pick, Phil Mickelson has been at the bottom of the leaderboards at the BMW and TOUR Championships. Sergio Garcia has not made the cut of a major championship since he won The Masters back in 2017. Ultimately, these players will have to compete at least once in the Ryder Cup. Most likely, some of them may play in the Foursomes session on Friday. But giving rest to the older players is important, as the Captains would like to keep them physically fit and not tired before the grueling Singles Sunday.
3) Rookies Get Golden Opportunity
It is clear that Captains Furyk and Bjorn aren’t shying away from putting their rookies in the hot seat early on in the Ryder Cup. Six rookies combined will be starting in the Friday morning Four-Ball session; Tony Finau and Justin Thomas for the Americans and Jon Rahm, Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for the Europeans.

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“Players stand up and they are counted for what they do in the greatest events in the world. But legends are made in this event,” Bjorn said. “That is where the public comes around them and can do so much for their careers. It’s an opportunity to go out there and be the best that you can be on a grand stage.”

Thomas Bjorn is risking more with starting four rookies compared to Furyk’s two. Not to take away anything from Tony Finau or Justin Thomas but those two have been in the mix in major championships (Thomas 2017 PGA Championship winner) and relish those high-pressure moments. For Bjorn, he will roll the dice with Rahm, Olesen, Hatton, and Fleetwood. These four have shown promising golf this year, but will it shine through in front of the rowdy home crowd? The Danish captain believes they have what it takes to seize the moment.

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“There are the obvious guys out there, in the sense that they are players you would all expect to see, and then there’s a new guy in every group,” Bjorn said.

“They have been just itching to go, especially Thorbjorn, Jon and Tyrrell. I think Tommy is a different guy, in the way that he’s won [the 2017 France Open] around here, and he’s been real quality for the last couple of years.”
4) Best Morning Match?
While it will be fantastic to see the big hitters of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy going toe-to-toe or the lifelong friendship of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas becoming Ryder Cup partners, the best morning match will be the last one. Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, the Big Cat and Captain America taking on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, the Italian Stallion and the English Rookie.

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Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup record is sensational. 6-1-2 and most famous for exuding that American pride in defeating Rory McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Despite Tiger Woods’ underwhelming Ryder Cup record (13-17-3), he is coming into the Ryder Cup on a high after winning his 80th PGA Tour victory. The partnership of Woods and Reed can fuel and ignite the fire within each other, showcasing that emotion and enthusiasm we are used to seeing at the Ryder Cup.

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Francesco Molinari arrives in Paris playing the best golf of his career. Winner of the BMW PGA Championship and the Open Championship, Molinari utilized his steady ball striking tee to green to capture these victories. This includes deflecting a Tiger Woods final round charge at Carnoustie to hoist the Claret Jug.

Molinari will be paired with Tommy Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup rookie who has played brilliantly this season. From shooting a 64 in the final round of the U.S. Open to winning the 2017 French Open at Le Golf National, Fleetwood’s coolness under pressure will be a critical asset to possess in this Ryder Cup match.
5) Who Wins Each Match?
These four matches have the potential to produce terrific drama to open the Ryder Cup. As both the USA and Europe teams know, getting off to a strong start is crucial. When a player arriving to the first tee at the Ryder Cup, there is no messing around. Just ask Rory McIlroy, who vividly remembers his experience of coming to the first tee in his inaugural Ryder Cup appearance.

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“I still thought it was this team event that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things,” McIlroy said. “I was more concerned about individual titles and all that. Then I got to the first tee and I realized the magnitude of it all. It just hits you. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there.”
With that said, here are my predictions for the opening four matches.

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm (Europe)

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen (USA)

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey (USA)

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood (Half)


Score After Friday Morning Session: USA 2.5 – Europe 1.5



 The post Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches appeared first on Last Word on Sports.