(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland stuck his tee shot at the par-3 17th hole mere feet away, helping Team Europe grab a commanding 4-0 lead over the United States team on the first day of the 44th Ryder Cup on Friday in Rome.
It marks the first time in Ryder Cup history that the Europeans swept allfour matches of a morning session.
McIlroy and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood put the final touches on the 4-0 lead by beating American duo Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay 2 and 1 in Friday morning's foursomes session at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
The teams had gone back and forth over the past three holes, the Americans twice moving to just 1 down. The U.S. team appeared ready to tie the match at the par-4 15th hole, but Fleetwood sank a 20-foot par putt and Schauffele shockingly missed a 5-footer to halve.
After Cantlay's first shot at No. 17 landed 20 feet away, McIlroy's sat still just 2 1/2 feet from the flagstick, earning a joyous celebration from the European crowd. Schauffele missed his putt and Fleetwood tapped in the easy birdie.
"I have hit a lot of good shots in my time. That's right up there," McIlroy said.
Schauffele and Cantlay were the United States' most daunting pairing. They entered Friday 5-0 as teammates in foursomes play.
"Amazing to sweep a session," McIlroy said. "I can't remember the last time Europe has done that. We can't get complacent at all. This is an unbelievably long American team. Last week (at the Solheim Cup), the American girls went up 4-0 in the first session there and Europe were able to come back, so we are not taking anything for granted here. It's a great start, but we need to keep our foot on the pedal and keep winning points."
The U.S. team never led any of the four morning matches.
Jon Rahm of Spain and Tyrrell Hatton of England defeated Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, 4 and 3. Viktor Hovland of Norway and Ludvig Aberg of Sweden won four of their first six holes in beating Max Homa and Brian Harman, 4 and 3. And Irishman Shane Lowry and Austrian Sepp Straka were 4 up through nine holes en route to beating Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa, 2 and 1.
The Americans are the defending champions but have not won a Ryder Cup played in Europe since 1993. They will hope to recover in the afternoon sessions and earn points during the four four-ball (best-ball) matches.
Hovland and Hatton will face Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, who sat out the morning session for the Americans but have chemistry from their yearslong friendship. Rahm and Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard will play Scheffler and Brooks Koepka. Scotland's Robert MacIntyre and England's Justin Rose will duel with Homa and Wyndham Clark. And McIlroy and Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick will take on Morikawa and Schauffele.
--Field Level Media