In a word, everything. Some of what happened on Friday was about course setup – which is undeniably the reason host teams have dominated Ryder Cups since 2016. The Europeans have been gaining a lead in the data game and it shows how the pair is stacked.
But both descriptions let the players down and eventually they had to hit the shot. They did so victoriously on Friday morning, jumping out to early leads in all four matches and working through the Americans efficiently and cleanly from there. They had a 4-0 lead and captain Luke Donald converted all four pairs to get everyone on course as a team we didn’t necessarily see coming.
In the afternoon, that strategy didn’t work – the Americans led by three matches and a 5-3 result after Day 1 meant that the pace of the Ryder Cup in the American group stage was still in doubt.
Although you know what happened next – three matches went to the 18th hole, and the Euros got half a point in each. From Victor Hovland’s birdie to Jon Rahm’s eagle to Justin Rose’s day-ending birdie putt, the biggest and baddest Europeans have played like this. It’s a point of pride for the Euros, maybe they’ll be bigger in the day they’re full.
“What we did down 18 shows the determination, the ferocity, the tenacity, the type of our team. They didn’t give up,” Donald said.