Some questions might never be answered: Will the Wallabies ever beat the All Blacks again? Is Vladimir Putin jealous of Donald Trump’s budding friendship with Kim Jong Un? Will the US Ryder Cup team ever figure out foursomes?
After jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the opening four-balls session on Friday morning at Le Golf National, the Americans did what they always seem to do when it comes to the alternate-shot format – lose. Although this time they did so spectacularly, getting swept in the session for the first time in the event’s history to stake Europe a 5-3 lead.
So bad was the drubbing that the huge crowds on the 17th and 18th holes had a nice view… of watching the grass grow. None of the four afternoon matches went beyond the 16th hole. Two of them were over by the 14th.
“We didn’t play our best golf,” US captain Jim Furyk said of another foursomes fumble. “What happened, I think it happens a lot in golf, is the momentum. You start seeing those putts go in. You start seeing the birdies. You start seeing the blue numbers on the board. I think the guys press a little hard. I think they try a little bit too hard and I think they put a little bit too much pressure on themselves.”
Now the pressure is on the US. Again. The team that leads after the first day of the Ryder Cup goes on to win about 75 percent of the time. Did I mention the US also hasn’t won a road game in 25 years?
This is part of the reason. And if this feels familiar it should.
Sure, the Americans crushed the Europeans in foursomes when the two sides met two years ago at Hazeltine National, sweeping the opening foursomes session before picking up another one-and-a-half points in the format the next day, but historically the quirky alternate shot format has been about as kind to the US as late-night comedians have been to Trump.
Four years ago at Gleneagles, Europe pounded the Americans, going 6-0-2 against them in foursomes on their way to a blowout victory. That was hardly an isolated example, either. In the history of the event, which traces back to 1927, the US trails 151-122 in points earned in the format. That might not seem like a lot until you consider the early years when the Americans often trounced the under-manned Great Britain & Ireland teams before continental Europe was added in 1979.
Speaking of numbers, here are a few more ones to digest:
On Friday, the US played in a combined 12-over with just one birdie among its four teams. On the front nine, the Americans won a whopping two of 36 holes. In the 60 total holes played, Europe won 27, the US 10.
Some of those make sense when you consider some of the players out there for the Americans. Phil Mickelson ranked 192nd in driving accuracy this season. At one point, he laid up off the tee using an iron… and promptly hit it in the water.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson? They’re winless in the foursomes.
For some reason, the US does just fine in foursomes in the Presidents Cup. But they’re also playing inferior teams.
Here’s one more number, from everyone’s calendar: in the past seven foursomes sessions, the US has been outscored 20.5 to 7.5. Good luck trying to win like that.