Saturday, 29 September 2018
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari   (Getty Images)
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari delivered a third successive point as Europe took a commanding 8-4 lead on a record-breaking morning at Le Golf National.

Thomas Bjørn's team came into the second day with a 5-3 lead after bouncing back from losing the opening fourballs session 3-1 to record the biennal contest's first-ever whitewash in the afternoon foursomes.

And they extended that advantage on Saturday morning, winning the top three fourballs matches in a reverse of Friday's session to become the first team to claim eight successive points since the current format was introduced in 1979.

The only bright spot for America was Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas' 2 and 1 victory over Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm in the anchor match, which prevented a first-ever double clean sweep.

Experienced duo Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia led from the front, beating Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka 2 and 1 to win the first point of the day before Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton won their first point together against World Number One Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler shortly after.

Open Champion Molinari and last year's Race to Dubai winner Fleetwood then showed just how strong their partnership is with a thumping 4 and 3 victory over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, becoming the first European pair to win their first three matches since Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters in 2016.

Fleetwood, who looked right at home on his Ryder Cup debut on Friday, started well again on day two, rolling in from 25 feet for a birdie at the second to put Europe one up.

At the third, Reed and Fleetwood both drove into the water, Woods found the heavy left rough and neither of the Americans could even make par as Molinari and Fleetwood went two up.

Woods notched the USA's first birdie of the day at the seventh to peg Molinari and Fleetwood back, and the 14-time Major Champion levelled things up with a close-range birdie at the tenth.

We need to keep going. There's still a long way to go - Francesco Molinari 

But Molinari reeled off three straight birdies from the 11th to put the Europeans three up before Fleetwood's par at the 15th secured the point which saw Europe equal the record for the most points won in consecutive sessions.

The Italian, who will once again play alongside Fleetwood in the afternoon foursomes, wants Europe to keep their foot on the gas.

He said: "We knew they (America) were going to be upset and we tried to get ready for it. 

"We were ready this morning. I think any time we had to step it up today, we did, either one of us. 

"We need to keep going. There's still a long way to go. We keep saying the same stuff but there are a lot of points to be won still."

Hatton and Casey were a combined nine under par in their impressive win, with the 41 year old birdieing five of the first six holes.

Casey said: "I desperately wanted a point after playing a great match against Justin and Jordan yesterday. I threw my heart at it and got nothing out of it. 

"So I wanted a point - it's been ten years since I last had one and I came out guns blazing, but I got backed up by this great man here (Hatton) because without him, we wouldn't be standing here as winners today."

McIlroy and Garcia survived a nervy finish as Finau and Koepka reduced their lead from four holes to one in the closing stages - but Garcia held his nerve, firing a birdie at the 17th to secure the win.

The Spaniard said: "I think we played really, really well. We gelled extremely well and that's what you need in fourballs.

"I've always enjoyed playing with Rory. He knows that. He's a good friend, and today wasn't any different."

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