Wednesday 18 September 2019

Tommy Fleetwood flies home for son's birthday party after bagging two points for Europe at Ryder Cup

Team Europe's Tommy Fleetwood celebrates
Team Europe's Tommy Fleetwood celebrates

Tom Morgan

Tommy Fleetwood was given special dispensation to rush back to his son's first birthday celebrations on Friday night after his heroic display in Europe's stirring Ryder Cup fightback.

Fleetwood, a match rookie, formed a dream team with Francesco Molinari as the pair scored Europe's only point in the fourballs before doubling their tally as the home team produced their first ever foursomes whitewash.

Thomas Bjorn, the Europe captain, hailed the pair's "special bond" afterwards, and revealed how Fleetwood's reward was to to spend an hour with his son, Franklin. "That's a pretty special thing for him and for Clare (Fleetwood's wife)," Bjorn said.

US captain Jim Furyk admitted his side's afternoon slump left a "sour taste", but vowed they would bounce back as he denied claims Tiger Woods was carrying a back injury.

Meanwhile, Paul McGinley, the former Europe captain, launched a blistering attack on the visitors, accusing them of being "surly" with their "heads down". He warned their apparent lack of passion that can spread like "a disease." 

Molinari and Fleetwood etched their names in golfing history by beating the US's premier pairing in both sessions. They beat Woods and Patrick Reed 3&1 in the morning before romping past Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 5&4 in the afternoon. The Englishman and the Italian "just love" playing together, Bjorn added.

"I think they just have a very special bond and relationship, and they have for a long time, and they love being on the golf course together," the Swede said. Molinari had shown "why he's a force to be reckoned with in the world of golf".

Bjorn said the entire home team would be allowed enjoy their first day onslaught for just an "hour". The team "go back in, knowing that there's another day tomorrow and everybody in this team has to regroup and get ready for what's ahead", he added.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy was the only player in the morning fourballs not to register a birdie as he and rookie Thorbjorn Olesen were defeated, but he bounced back alongside Ian Poulter in the foursomes with a 4&2 win over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Bjorn insisted he never doubted McIlroy after the Northern Irishman turned his game around on the opening day at Le Golf National.

Furyk, meanwhile, predicted that his side would bounce back after giving up a 3-1 lead at lunchtime. None of the four afternoon matches even made it to the 17th hole but Furyk said: "I think our guys will respond, I really do. I have a lot of confidence in this team. I think that obviously it's going to leave a sour taste in their mouth tonight and they have to sleep on that. We'll come back tomorrow, and I bet we'll be fire."

The American kept faith with his fourball pairings for Saturday's session - giving Woods and Patrick Reed the chance for revenge against Molinari and Fleetwood - but admitted he would need to "shore up" his foursomes line-up.

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