CHASKA, Minn. – European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke’s game plan didn’t work a lick in Friday’s opening foursomes session, but he’s sticking with it.
Clarke said he didn’t waver from his afternoon fourball lineup based on Europe getting shut out 4-0 in the morning.
“Nothing’s made different by this morning’s results,” Clarke said. “Had it been 4-0 our way, it would still be the same pairings this afternoon.”
The Europeans endured their first opening session sweep in 41 years, since an American team led by captain Arnold Palmer jumped to a 4-0 lead in 1975.
Clarke’s team was up in two matches Friday morning, but he watched the Americans turn around both of them.
“The European guys were not quite on top of their games,” Clarke said. “The American guys played better and deserved their 4-0 lead.”
No European or American team has fallen behind by three or more points in the opening session and come back to win.
“Hopefully, this afternoon, the roles will be reversed and the Europeans will go out and make some putts and get momentum,” Clarke said.
Clarke’s fourball lineup includes the same leadoff team, with Henrik Stenson teaming with Justin Rose in a rematch with Americans Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. The Americans won the morning matchup, 3 and 2.
After sitting four of his six rookies in the morning, Clarke is getting two more out in the afternoon lineup, sending Rafa Cabrera Bello out with fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia. They are up against Americans J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore.
Rookie Danny Willett, bracing for a tough reception after his brother penned an article insulting American fans, is out with Martin Kaymer. They are up against Americans Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.
Clarke sent Rory McIlroy back out with rookie Thomas Pieters, who played the morning foursomes. They’ll take on Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
Clarke’s lineup leaves rookies Matthew Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood on the bench again.