Europe quickly erased the U.S.'s 3-1 lead in the 2018 Ryder Cup by sweeping the Friday afternoon foursomes for the first time ever. The U.S. has swept foursomes five times but never in the previous 41 Ryder Cups has the Euorpean team done so, until now. Europe didn't just win all four foursomes matches but it ran away with the series, winning by a margin of at least 3 and 2 in each match.
There have been nine occasions in which one team swept either a foursomes or four-ball series and each time, the team that completed the sweep won or retained the Ryder Cup.
Here's how the European team pulled off a historic sweep.
Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose def. Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler 3 and 2
Biggest lead: 5 up through 11 holes
The match was all-square until Fowler missed about a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 5th hole to give Rose and Stenson a 1-up advantage. The Europeans won the next two holes with Stenson's birdie putt on the 6th and par putt on the 7th hole, where Fowler left a long par putt short.
Stenson and Rose were 5 up through 11 holes before Johnson and Fowler won the 12th and 13th holes to make the final score look closer than it was throughout.
The European pairing played even par through the 16 holes they played in foursomes. Rose and Stenson won four of their five holes with a par, while they birdied the par-4 6th hole during a run of three consecutive winning holes.
Ian Poulter/Rory McIlroy def. Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson 4 and 2
Biggest lead: 4 up through 16 holes
After not playing in Friday morning four-balls, Watson and Simpson were the only U.S. pairing to take a lead in afternoon foursomes. They made par on the par-4 1st hole after Poulter's tee shot ran off the fairway into the water harazed. The American players then took the par-5 3rd hole thanks to Simpson's long birdie putt that rolled left to right to go 2 up through three holes.
However, Poulter and McIlroy came roaring back on the front nine.
McIlroy sank about a 6-foot birdie putt on the 6th hole, then Simpson missed a par putt on the 7th hole that would have halved the hole. European momentum built from there.
The European pairing won the 6th through 9th holes – the final three with pars – to take a 2-up lead at the turn. Watson and Simpson birdied the par-3 11th thanks to Watson's pinpoint accuracy on his tee shot but McIlroy and Poulter won the 12th, 13th and 16th holes to win the match 4 and 2.
Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren def. Phil Mickelson/Bryson DeChambeau 5 and 4
Biggest lead: 7 up through nine holes
Garcia and Noren made a push for the record books with as dominant of a start as you'll ever see in the Ryder Cup. In a match featuring a Ryder Cup vet and rookie on each side, the European duo took a 7 up lead through nine holes. For reference, the biggest individual match win in Ryder Cup history is 8 and 7, and it was accomplished in singles, not foursomes.
After Mickelson attempted to lay-up with an iron off the tee but instead sent his ball into a water hazard on the 3rd hole, Noren dropped in a birdie putt, while the Americans bogeyed.
On the par-4 5th hole, Noren's approach shot from 161 yards out landed within 12 feet of the hole, setting Garcia up for a birdie putt.
Mickelson and DeChambeau won the 10th, 11th and 13th holes but it was too little too late.
The European pairing won the 12th and the teams halved the 14th hole after Noren, the 36-year-old Ryder Cup rookie, placed a gutsy uphill putt to give Garcia a short birdie putt, ending the match in a 5 and 4 win for the Europeans. A 5 and 4 win is dominant but this foursomes match was more lopsided than even that score suggests.
Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood def. Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth 5 and 4
Biggest lead: 5 up through 14 holes
Europe's most successful pairing on Friday was Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, who went 2-0 on the day. They beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3 and 1 in Friday morning four-balls, as the only European pairing to win in the morning session, then they defeated Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 5 and 4 with a consistently excellent performance.
Molinari and Fleetwood birdied two of the three par-5s, the 3rd and 14th holes, as the former broke open an all-square match and the latter gave Europe a 5-3 lead heading into Saturday. The duo won seven of the 14 holes they played, while Thomas and Spieth won just two – the 8th and 11th holes.