Ryder Cup Diary: Foursomes play tests Justin Thomas, Team USA ability to adapt

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 26: Justin Thomas of the United States attends a press conference ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 26, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ryder Cup Diary: Foursomes play tests Justin Thomas, Team USA ability to adapt

2018 Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup Diary: Foursomes play tests Justin Thomas, Team USA ability to adapt

(Note: Golf professional Mike Thomas is the father of 2017 PGA Player of the Year and 2018 United States Ryder Cup team member Justin Thomas. Mike will be sharing his impressions of this week’s Ryder Cup matches at Le Golf National outside Paris with the (Louisville, Ky.) Courier Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.)

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Another gorgeous day in Versailles.

We start early in the morning with a 5:30 a.m. shuttle bus ride to the course. While the players can ride out whenever they choose, those of us at other tells are bound by the shuttle schedule.

The day started with team photos at 9, followed by some practice and then nine holes of foursomes play, or as we know it, alternate shot. This is by far the hardest format in the Ryder Cup, as it is difficult to get into a flow with your game as you’re not hitting every shot. There will be eight foursomes matches Friday and Saturday, as well as eight four ball matches, in which each player plays his own ball. Sunday’s final round consists of 12 singles matches.

The challenge in foursomes is to leave your partner in good spots and to be able to play shots from the spots your partner leaves you, and strategy also comes into play.

Most importantly, you want the better driver to be teeing off on driver holes, to figure out how to get the better iron player to be hitting into the most greens and to decide who may end up chipping on par-5 holes. The biggest challenge that is often overlooked is to pair players who either play the same or a similar golf ball.

So in addition to pairing players who work well together, a team has to determine who likes hitting the other person’s ball and putting with it. Believe it or not, the putting can pose a real challenge because these players develop tremendous feel putting with the same ball over a period of years.

Sep 26, 2018; Paris, FRA; Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas make their way by buggy to the 10th tee during a Ryder Cup practice round at Le Golf National. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas drew a large crowd Wednesday at Le Golf National. (Ian Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

Additionally, different balls spin differently on chip shots, and players must also adjust for how much wind will affect ball flight with their iron shots.

Top players are in tune with all of these factors with their regular ball but not with a ball their partner may be using. The golf ball is the most overlooked aspect of foursomes play, and Justin is the only one who plays his version of the Titleist Pro V1X.

Today was a nine-hole match with Justin partnering with Jordan Spieth against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. This gave them an opportunity to get a feel for playing this format in a competitive environment (yes, there’s ALWAYS something on the line when these guys tee it up). Then followed lots of chipping and putting with their partners’ golf ball.

I have been fortunate to have attended two other Ryder Cups as a National PGA of America board member, but seeing it from this angle is a whole new experience. This is a huge event and practice-round crowds have been large and loud already. Friday, surely, will be bigger and louder.

As anyone who has seen their children excel in any activity can attest, it is neat to see your child get to live their dream and have a passion for something they enjoy. We are fortunate indeed to be able to have a front-row seat to this.

Justin is the third PGA member in our family along with my father and myself. For this to happen in the Ryder Cup, a PGA of America event, brings additional pride. We are blessed to have this happen to us.

Thank you again for all the support from back home, and GO USA!!!

Latest

More Golfweek
Home