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Europeans looked strong after first day of Ryder Cup 2023


Europe was able to claw back from a 4-0 deficit after the opening round of the recent Solheim Cup to finish in an overall tie and retain its title, so let’s see what happens in the Ryder Cup with the U.S., the defending champions.

The Europeans won the four-ball round 4-0 and went on to finish the first day with 6½ points compared to the Americans totalling a meager 1½ points.

The Americans have not won on European soil in 30 years.

The only time a team has lost after leading by four points after the opening day was in 1999 when the Europeans surrendered a 10-6 advantage after two days.

Let’s just say the Americans have a tough chore ahead of them at the event that is taking place at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome.

Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X) finished solidly with two eagles in his final three holes to help Europe record a win in the afternoon session. He looked as strong as he did in the first half of the 2023, easily dominating the competition.

Justin Rose (TaylorMade TP5), the eldest player for both sides, gave the Europeans a point with an emphatic putt in his last hole in afternoon foursomes to produce a tie. He showed his emotion with an emphatic fist pump, followed by pointing a finger three times to his team and patting his chest. Rose is playing in his sixth Ryder Cup.

Europe captain Luke Donald (Titleist Pro V1x) overhauled his roster, choosing several newcomers instead of veterans from years past. So far, it is clearly working, though when you have Rahm playing that well, it’s a huge advantage.

Rahm went two for two on the day. In the morning he was paired with Tyrrell Hatton (Titleist Pro V1x), which some people predicted could lead to a combustible result considering their fiery tempers. Though they both played with a lot of emotion, it did not hamper their play. They absolutely deflated best buddies Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1) and Sam Burns (Callaway Chrome Soft X) with five birdies to only one by the Americans.

Overall, the Europeans led from start to finish in the opening 64 holes.

Following the afternoon fourball session, Rahm said that prior to his eagle putt on the 18th, playing partner Nicolai Hojgaard (Callaway Chrome Soft X) asked him how the late Seve Ballesteros, would have done. Ballesteros is Rahm’s idol.

“He would have done something spectacular,” Rahm replied and did just that.

Rahm praised Hojgaard for his play.

“He played incredible golf for a Ryder Cup rookie…He’s only going to get better.”

I predict Hojgaard should win a PGA Tour event in 2023-2024. He looked special in some of the events he played in the last season.

JT LOOKS GOOD: Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x), who was a controversial captain’s pick despite a subpar season, played the best of any player on his team.

While lining up for a short putt on the 15th hole in the afternoon, Thomas stepped back, which was followed by jeers from the pro-European gallery. But he made the putt and stared down the jeer birds and did a fist pump. His playing partner and best friend, Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x) really struggled.

DIFFERENT STRATEGIES: Almost all of the American squad entered the tournament having not played in a month, though the players arrived early to get a feel for the course. Thomas played in the recent Fortinet Championship ad placed a respectable fifth. It was only his third top-five finish in 23 tournaments in 2022-2023. He last had a top-five finish back in February in the WM Phoenix Open.

The Europeans played in several tournaments to keep their games sharp heading into the tournament.

HONORING SEVE: There’s a locker in the European change room honoring Ballesteros, a nice touch by captain Luke Donald (Titleist Pro V1x). He said he will likely stick with the lineup on Saturday similar to what he did on Friday. As for American captain Zach Johnson (Titleist Pro V1x), he’s going to have to use the blender approach to stir up his team.

TIP OF THE CAP: Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) donned a cap, which was surprising considering he hadn’t worn one in previous Ryder Cups saying his head was too small and the caps couldn’t be manufactured to fit by the company manufacturing them. Like how hard is it to design one to fit his head? Well, that problem was corrected.

Incidentally, McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood (TaylorMade TP5x) played together in the morning foursomes round and jokingly called themselves Fleetwood Mac after the band of the same name.

EUROPE’S CHANT: While the American fans shout “USA, USA” after a great shot by their squad, the Europeans sing “Ole, Ole, Ole.” It is the international chant sung at soccer matches, but I researched the origin of it and, according to Wikipedia, Olé is a Spanish interjection used to cheer on or praise a performance commonly used in bullfighting and flamenco dance.

And now you know.


Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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