Justin Rose provides incredible late drama as Europe extend lead to five at Ryder Cup

Europe's English golfer, Justin Rose celebrates holing a putt to tie his four-ball match on the first day of play in the 44th Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome

American Max Homa missed a birdie putt at 18 to allow Europe’s Justin Rose (pictured) to hole his short-range effort and cap a glorious day in warm autumn sunshine on day one of the Ryder Cup on Friday. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP

Published Sep 29, 2023


Europe led the USA 6.5-1.5 at the Ryder Cup in Rome after saving three fourballs matches late on Friday to deny an American fightback.

Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick were the only European pair to win, 5 and 3 against Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

But three matches halved on the final hole ensured Luke Donald's men extended their lead to five points after the morning's foursomes 4-0 whitewash.

Europe's sole win came thanks to the red-hot putter of Fitzpatrick, who shot four birdies and an eagle on the front nine of the Marco Simone course in the Italian capital.

‘One of the greatest days’

"One of the greatest days on golf course, it's very special," said Fitzpatrick. "Just so excited to be out here and to get off to the start we did, could not be happier.”

It was a superb end to a positive day for Europe, who steamrollered the Americans in the first session and snatched halves from matches which looked destined to go to Zach Johnson's USA until the final shot.

Joh Rahm ensured that he and Nicolai Hojgaard shared the spoils with world number one Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka with an incredible chip on the 16th and wonderful eagle put two holes later which brought a huge roar from the massed ranks of fans.

Koepka is the only golfer from the Saudi Arabia-backed, breakaway LIV Golf tour to play at this week's event.

And Viktor Hovland pulled off a similar piece of late daring with a birdie put which meant he and Tyrrell Hatton shared their match with formidable matchplay pairing Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Thomas and Spieth had claimed four points from six matches as a pairing at the two previous Ryder Cups, and won all four of their matches together at the Presidents Cup last year.

Viktor Hovland fireworks

Hovland ended in fabulous fashion a day which began with a sensational chip-in on the first hole of his four-and-three foursomes win against Max Homa and Brian Harman in the morning.

"It was about time the ball went in. I felt like we played some really good golf today. To make a put like that on the last was great for the team," said Hovland.

And shortly afterwards Max Homa missed a birdie putt at 18 to allow Justin Rose to hole his short-range effort and cap a glorious day in warm autumn sunshine.

Europe are aiming to regain the trophy after suffering a record-breaking 19-9 thrashing by the Americans at Whistling Straits two years ago.