Golf

Unbelievable start, historic day, but job not done – Europe captain Luke Donald

Team Europe Captain Luke Donald on day one of the 44th Ryder Cup (Mike Egerton, PA)
Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent, Rome

Europe captain Luke Donald insisted his side would not rest on their laurels after claiming a record-equalling five-point lead on the opening day of the 44th Ryder Cup.

After enjoying an unprecedented clean sweep of the opening session, the home side also staged three dramatic comebacks in the afternoon fourballs to ensure the United States failed to win a single match in a day for the first time.

“Unbelievable start, historic day, but we want it to be an historic week so the job is certainly not done,” said Donald, whose team lead 6.5-1.5.

“We will all celebrate an amazing day, but we’ll be back with the goal of trying to win tomorrow morning’s session. We’ll be getting our guys focused to be back in the saddle, so to speak.

“We’ll enjoy the last hour [of play] and the celebration, but once I’m back at the hotel we’ll have a team meeting and we’ll be back to business.”

Donald was well aware that the United States could easily have ended the day just 5-3 behind as they were ahead in three of the fourballs on the closing stretch, only for Jon Rahm to finish eagle, par, eagle and Viktor Hovland to hole from 20 feet for birdie on the 18th.

Justin Rose then also birdied the last to ensure the five-point advantage and match Europe’s lead at Oakland Hills in 2004, when US captain Hal Sutton disastrously paired Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson twice on the opening day.

“Ryder Cups are always full of amazing roller coasters and swings throughout the day,” Donald added. “Obviously this morning felt a lot more comfortable than this afternoon. To win 4-0 was very special.

“But this afternoon the US for a while there were holing putts. They were turning around matches.

“But what we did going down 18 just shows the determination, the grit, the perseverance, kind of the unity of our team. They never gave up, and they kept pushing till the very end.

“And to hole putts like Viktor did, like Jon did, and of course Rosey, right at the end, that is huge. It really looked like 3-1 at one point for the US. At 5-3 they are well back in the game.

“But to win that session, when it looked like 3-1, is an unbelievable feat by my guys.”

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