PARIS (Reuters) - A re-energized Jordan Spieth gave a putting masterclass as he helped the United States forge into a 3-1 lead after the first session of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on Friday.
The 25-year-old three-times major champion missed last week’s Tour Championships in Atlanta in order to regain his zip after a title-less season and the break seemed to work wonders as he began with a birdie barrage.
Playing alongside close friend Justin Thomas in the third fourballs match of the day, he had the American fans in raptures as he birdied five of the first seven holes to stun the European pairing of rookie Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey.
His fabled putting has been off beam this year but he took an instant liking to the large Parisian greens.
He began with a superb approach shot to the first, the ball spinning back on the green and almost into the cup to leave himself an easy birdie putt to win the hole.
Spieth rolled in a 10-footer to halve the third hole and clenched his fist as he dispatched another monster putt to put the U.S. two up on the fifth.
Another birdie at the sixth maintained the lead and there appeared no stopping Spieth as he chipped in from the fringe of the green on the seventh to win the hole.
Despite leading by three after 10 holes, however, Spieth and Thomas were pegged back to all square before they responded to secure a third point of the day for Jim Furyk’s side.
Thomas put the U.S. back ahead on the 15th with a sublime second shot to six-feet, before stroking in the birdie.
Spieth’s putter had cooled on the inward nine but appropriately it was his calm four-footer for par on the 18th that secured the 1-up victory.
“We were able to feed off each other, we ham-and-egged it extremely well around this golf course,” Spieth, who has now won all but one of his five fourballs matches in Ryder Cups, said.
“We made a lot of birdies today. What a blast that was.
“Justin’s birdie on 15 was huge. That was so clutch.”
The sight of Spieth, surprisingly languishing at 136th in the year’s PGA putting statistics, holing birdies will have been a huge boost for the American side who are seeking a first victory on European soil for 25 years.
There was no respite for Spieth as he was back in action in the afternoon foursomes, again with Thomas, against Europe’s Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge