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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia set to extend Europe's lead

Dream team should sizzle on Saturday

Sergio Garcia was superb in the Friday foursomes
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Sky Sports Main Event, 7.10am Saturday

Europe whitewashed the United States 4-0 in the afternoon foursomes on the opening day of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Paris, recovering spectacularly from a 3-1 morning fourballs defeat to take a 5-3 lead into the weekend.

The hosts drifted to 5-2 for Cup glory after their fourballs problems, but Thomas Bjorn's team will start the second day of the competition as 8-13 favourites after dominating the foursomes.

Bjorn gambled in the fourballs by putting a Ryder Cup rookie in each of his pairings, suffering a poor start with Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson on the sidelines.

Tony Finau and Justin Rose hit the opening shots for their respective sides. Finau enjoyed some great fortune playing alongside Brooks Koepka, the power-packed pair edging Rose and Jon Rahm by winning the 18th hole.

Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler were more comfortable winners against Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen, and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas added a third point to the visitors' total when seeing off Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton.

Open victor Francesco Molinari and Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood were the morning heroes for Europe, overcoming the might of Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed to stop the rot for the pre-tournament outsiders.

The injection of three experienced, fresh Ryder Cup veterans for the foursomes changed the dynamics of the contest. Garcia, Poulter and Stenson were in fantastic form, and it did not take long for the leaderboard to become awash with blue.

Rose, reunited with his old pal Stenson, never looked in any bother against Johnson and Fowler in the first foursomes contest, while McIlroy and Poulter recovered from two down in the early stages against Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson to crush the American duo 4&2.

Garcia and Alexander Noren dismissed Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson with ease, a 5&4 destruction with a scoreline which flattered the Yanks, then Molinari and Fleetwood triumphed by the same margin against Spieth and Thomas.

Molinari and Fleetwood are top scorers for Europe with two points apiece, while six Americans – Finau, Koepka, Johnson, Fowler, Spieth and Thomas – share first place in their standings with one.

FedEx Cup champion Rose has been rested for the second-day fourballs session, with Stenson, Olesen and Noren also missing out. American captain Jim Furyk has benched Simpson, Watson, Mickelson and DeChambeau.

The fourballs look likely to be tight affairs, with sunshine and light breezes forecast, and plenty of birdies up for grabs. McIlroy and Garcia could be an inspired pairing – two Major champions who relish this competition – and Europe can be fancied to move into a 6-3 lead courtesy of their opening fixture against Koepka and Finau.

Bjorn has surprisingly kept faith with the Casey-Hatton pairing and they look vulnerable against Johnson and Fowler in match two.

Woods was poor on day one, appearing to be struggling with his back, so his partnership with Reed for the third bout has much to prove. Molinari and Fleetwood should fancy their chances of staying undefeated.

The final contest between Poulter and Rahm, and Spieth and Thomas, could be the closest of the four. All things considered, a 2-2 fourballs scoreline looks the best correct-score value, with McIlroy and Garcia the most likely winners of the morning.

R McIlroy & S Garcia
2pts 6-5 Betfair, Paddy Power
Morning fourballs to be a 2-2 draw 
1pt 3-1 Betway

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The injection of three experienced, fresh Ryder Cup veterans for the foursomes changed the dynamics of the contest
E.W. Terms
Sky bet