Rickie Fowler, DJ can't match debut in disappointing Ryder Cup encore

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 28: Rickie Fowler of the United States and Dustin Johnson of the United States during the afternoon foursome matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 28, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Rickie Fowler, DJ can't match debut in disappointing Ryder Cup encore

2018 Ryder Cup

Rickie Fowler, DJ can't match debut in disappointing Ryder Cup encore

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk looked like he had something with the new pairing of Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson.

The American duo went on a tear midway through their morning four-ball match and put a fork in Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen, 4 and 2, putting the first point on the board at Le Golf National around the time when most fans back home were just getting out of bed.

Furyk was confident enough in what he saw to throw them out first in the afternoon foursomes matches against a traditional European powerhouse – Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. The end result might have been the most disappointing of four U.S. losses throughout a session which totally flipped the script and gave Europe all the momentum moving ahead.

This was one of two rookie-free afternoon pairings and the strongest on paper, but Stenson and Rose built a five-hole lead simply by shooting even par over the first 11 holes.

“They played really well,” Johnson said. “They played really solid. They didn’t really ever give us anything.”

Rose and Stenson did bogey the par-3 second hole, but Fowler and Johnson made bogey as well and things went south from there.

Foursomes have been a particularly troubling format for the Americans in recent years and that’s why they need their most talented players to step up. The course played tougher on a windy afternoon at Le Golf National, but Fowler is widely regarded as one of the best U.S. players in windy conditions and Johnson is ranked No. 1 in the world for a reason.

They had a chance to set the tone out of the gate and couldn’t get it done. The following matches were so lopsided it likely wouldn’t have made a difference, but teams do feed off what they see on the leaderboard. Seeing Fowler and Johnson fall into a quick hole couldn’t have helped, and the second team of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson built an early lead which quickly vanished on the back nine.

Fowler and Johnson certainly deserve credit for what they did in the morning in their first time playing together, beating one of Europe’s biggest leaders in McIlroy to pick up a mental advantage.

They make an interesting combination as two of the more laid-back personalities on the team, and together their talents should shine.

That’s part of the reason Furyk is confident sending them out for a third straight session Saturday morning, and they’ll have the best chance of any American team to win a point matched up against Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton.

We’ll see if the duo can get back to their debut form in Act III.

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