SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tony Finau hit the two most important shots of the morning session at the Ryder Cup, although neither was particularly spectacular.
Finau set out in the day’s first match with Brooks Koepka against Justin Rose and Jon Rahm. Both of the Americans had asked to play first on Friday morning and before teeing off in his first match, Finau was told he’d be hitting the week’s first shot.
“[Koepka] comes over to me and tells me, ‘Hey, I want you to hit the first tee shot,’” Finau said. “It was cool for him to give me that honor, to lead off this Ryder Cup. It's a feeling I'll always remember, and it's so electric.”
Finau was predictably excited and his 3-iron ran out a little farther than he expected and stopped dangerously close to a water hazard.
The U.S. twosome trailed for almost the entire match, falling 2 down at the turn, and were trailing by a hole when they reached the par-3 16th hole. From 155 yards, Finau’s 8-iron tee shot fell short of the green, bounded off a wooden bulkhead and landed 5 feet from the hole.
“I needed the break. Just when I saw the ball in the air, I knew it needed to get up. I was kind of wishing for that in the air, and I got lucky. Sometimes the ball rolls your way and sometimes it doesn't,” said Finau, who rolled in the birdie putt to even the match. “But fortunately for us, that was a huge turning point in our match.”
Finau and Koepka won the match on the 18th hole with a par to help lead the U.S. team to a 3-1 lead after Day 1 fourball play.