In recent years, both sides have often traded blows on the Friday, with the US usually leading handsomely after the morning session, but Europe pulling it back with a dominant afternoon session. In the last three Ryder Cups, the US have led after session one, including sweeping the board in 2016 with four wins from the opening four foursomes matches. True to home advantage though, in 2014 and 2018, Europe came back in the second session to lead after day one.
At the last three Ryder Cups held in America, the US have led after day one, and now with arguably their strongest team ever, with nine of the world’s top 11 in their ranks, it is no surprise to see they are heavy favourites to have the early lead. The margin of the lead has been two points or higher on each occasion too, so the US to lead with a (-1.5) handicap at 11/8 looks like a near-certainty.
The US team sometimes come into trouble on the foursomes, where players take alternating shots with the same ball. In 2014 and 2018, the US took just half a point from a possible eight in the day one foursomes, and they drew 2-2 on home soil in 2012. The overall tally since 1995 has seen Europe win 15 points more than the US on the foursomes overall, and with the morning session on day one being a foursomes, Europe will need to use their form in recent years to keep themselves in strong contention.
The Americans have a far better record in the fourballs over the last 25 years, despite still trailing Europe overall by 50 points to 46, playing best ball wins is more suited to a team of players who are the better individuals as opposed to Europe who will be relying on the strength of teamwork, and captain Padraig Harrington will look to make that teamwork count in the foursomes firstly for his European side.
Europe’s best chance of winning a session will be in the foursomes and it will more than likely be a very close-run thing too. Europe to win 2.5-1.5 in the foursomes is 13/2, while a 2-2 tie is 3/1. Should Europe win or tie in the foursomes though, it is unlikely they will enjoy similar success in the best-ball fourballs. The best value doubles appear to be a Europe foursomes-USA fourballs double at 5/1, while a tied foursomes-USA fourballs double is 13/2.
Another footnote is that both sides have completed a 4-0 sweep on day one in foursomes in the last two Ryder Cups. A 4-0 win for the US team in either session, with their current crop, on home soil is a real possibility at 11/1, while Europe’s chances of a clean sweep look more unlikely, but are 22/1 to do so in either session.