Sobel: Breaking Down the 2018 Ryder Cup Friday Afternoon Foursomes Session
Sep 26, 2018; Paris, FRA; From left to right USA golfers Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods walk the 15th hole during a Ryder Cup practice round at Le Golf National. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
- The United States took a 3-1 lead after the first Ryder Cup session, and looks to keep it rolling on Friday afternoon during foursomes.
- Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas against Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari highlights the card.
- Jason Sobel gives his pick and analysis for all four matches.
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – What a morning for the American side.
It wasn’t quite the 4-0 start that the U.S. team posted two years ago at Hazeltine, but a 3-1 advantage after the Friday morning four-ball session should have captain Jim Furyk satisfied with the results so far.
We’ve got some really intriguing matches on tap for the afternoon foursomes session, so let’s break ‘em down with some predictions. There’s only one ball in play for each team in the alternate shot format.
All odds via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose (Europe)
Odds: USA -115, Europe -105
DJ and Rickie didn’t just ham-and-egg it around the back-nine in their morning match. They were the whole pig and chicken. They combined to make six birdies in their final eight holes, winning in convincing fashion.
Meanwhile, it might be time to question Rose’s composure under pressure. He bogeyed the final hole of regulation and first playoff hole to lose the BMW Championship, nearly coughed away the FedEx Cup last week and, with his four-ball match alongside Jon Rahm on the line this morning, he knocked an approach into the water on the final hole.
That’s enough for me to stick with the American duo in this one.
Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter (Europe)
Odds: Europe -135, USA +115
Only one player in this match competed in the morning — and that was McIlroy, the lone player who failed to card a single birdie in four-balls.
He and Ryder Cup stalwart Poulter are the favored team here, but don’t be too quick to write off the Americans. Simpson is a much improved player from the last time he played in the Ryder Cup and he loves Watson as a foursomes teammate, despite their differing games and personalities.
I see a back-and-forth match with a handful of unforced errors on both sides. There has been at least one halve in three of the last four foursomes sessions in this competition and I think this one could be a little sloppy to make it four out of five.
Phil Mickelson/Bryson DeChambeau (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren (Europe)
Odds: Europe -125, USA +105
Forget about any morning form for this match – none of these four played in the four-ball session.
If there’s a worry for the U.S. team — from observers outside of the team room, that is — it’s that Mickelson has struggled recently and reportedly endured a few loose swings during practice rounds this week. I still think he’ll play well this week and the analytical DeChambeau could be the perfect partner.
On the European side, Noren won the Open de France here at Le Golf National earlier this summer, but you have to wonder whether Garcia will serve as more anchor than buoy in this one.
Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe)
Odds: USA -115, Europe -105
This is the anchor match and that fits, because it’s the most compelling of the four this afternoon, featuring a couple of repeat victorious pairings from the morning.
Spieth and Thomas seemed to lose some steam as their match continued, while Molinari and Fleetwood built up some momentum. This European team should be a deadly duo in the foursomes format, as two of the game’s best ball-strikers should keep their ball in the fairway and on the greens throughout this match.
Expect a good one here that could go the distance, but a propensity for eliminating mistakes should keep the Europeans on top.