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The first day

I spent the whole of the day watching the four-balls and foursomes in what proved a satisfactory start for Europe.

The rationale behind the pairings appeared to be to match experience with a debutant. My view is that it is  better to rely on traditionally tried and tested successful pairings like Justin Rose/Henrik Stensen who have played together 7 times or with the Americans Reed/Spieth.

Justin Rose and Joe Rahm in the morning were 2 up at one stage against Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau only to lose on the 18th but McIlroy looked out of sorts till he had the motivating – both of crowd and player – Ian Poulter alongside him in the afternoon.

He played the shot of the day when he had an awful stance on a bank  but contrived to work the ball onto the green for Poults to putt.

Sergio Garcia proved us  all wrong – not least me – by notching up his 23rd Ryder Cup  win, paired with Alex Noren, over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson . He overtakes the legendary Seve and now has 25 time all time winner Sir Nick Faldo in his sights.

He was paired cleverly with Alex  Noren who won at the Golf National two years ago.

The most inspired pairing was Francesco Molinari  and Tommy Fleetwood – good for me as a backer of Molinari. Molinari likes a course demanding accuracy rather than power.

Fleetwood provides that touch of magic. The chemistry between the two was excellent with much hugging and congratulations. Paired again this morning after two wins they may need to be rested in the afternoon foursomes.

The Americans do not seem to like foursomes  and the choice of ball may be an issue, needless to say the mad scientist Bryson deChambeau has to play his special ball. His partner Phil Mickelson looked way off form and the pair were comprehensively beaten by McIlroy and Poulter.

The Sky coverage lacked a really experienced Ryder Cup veteran, say a Faldo.

Dame Laura Davies knows her golf but has never played a Ryder Cup match. With the camera switching from hole to hole, a continual  visual record of the state of play of each pairing as well as the overall score would have been helpful.

Euan Murray is a consummate professional presenter and very well-informed but I do miss Peter Alliss and Bruce Critchley.

I do like the genial Butch Harman who coaches Dustin Johnson and Ricky Fowler. He is never obvious in his patriotism, being generous in his praise to Europeans and his knowledge of the technical side is peerless. David Howell has a pleasant personality but does not say too much of interest Wayne “Radar” Riley gets on my nerves with his bumptiousness.

The American captain Jim Furyk will be concerned not just by being two points behind but by only narrowing winning two of the morning four-balls by one hole and by losing all the afternoon four-balls comprehensively.

With a two point cushion, Europe can play percentage golf much like canny managers do when they close a football game down and out once they achieve a two goal lead.

By close of play today I would like that lead to extend to four as I do worry about the final singles day being a  sea of red.

 

About John Pargiter

John Pargiter’s biggest claim to fame is his first-ever work experience job, as ‘legs’ (or runner) for Henry Longhurst. For many years he worked in insurance at Lloyds. After retiring he has returned to his favourite sport of golf and is a keen recreational sailor and grandparent. More Posts