Ryder Cup moments are not for the faint of heart. They are not typically meant for captain's picks or those who just qualified onto the team. They are meant for stars, superstars who were born for the moment and deliver when it is their time. Towards the end of Day 1 at the 2023 Ryder Cup, that time arrived, and the stars on the European team delivered.
Securing a 4 to 0 lead out of the gates in foursomes, Europe took on a flurry of punches from the United States in the afternoon four-ball session. It materialized into three American flags filling the board early, but they wouldn't stay there when the final putt of the session dropped.
Facing the American duo of Jordan Spieth & Justin Thomas, Tyrrell Hatton & Viktor Hovland found themselves in a battle. Entering the final hole all tied, the Europeans gave themselves a pair of birdie chances from 25 feet with Thomas in close for a sure four on the par-5 18th. Before Thomas could strike his blow, Hovland gave one of his own and connected from distance and sent the European contingent into a frenzy.
"I thought one of us needed to make the putt and to make that one was really cool," said Hovland. "Put a little bit more pressure on J.T. there."
Hovland's tie put Europe out in front 5.5 to 0.5, but it was Rahm's punch that may have been the knockout. Facing the formidable American pair of Scottie Scheffler & Brooks Koepka, Rahm leaned on his partner Nicolai Hojgaard early in often. The rookie converted seven birdie chances and carried the Spaniard to crunch time where Rahm came through.
With Koepka in close for birdie on the drivable par-4 16th, Rahm settled over his second from the greenside rough. Throwing his ball onto the green and seen it tumbling towards the hole, Rahm's unlikely eagle produced his fourth hole-out from off the green on the day. It squared the match, but Rahm's work was not finished.
Scheffler threw a dart on the following hole to reclaim the lead and put red back on the board. Rahm didn't flinch. Splitting the fairway and sending his second into the par-5 18th down the hill and onto the front of the green, the Masters champion set up an eagle look from 33 feet.
Koepka was once again in close for birdie, and Koepka was once again not granted the chance to make his putt. Hitting his putt with fervor, Rahm's ball made a beeline for the hole, arriving with pace and stopping after taking a hop off the back and settling to the bottom. A tie was the result and will force the Americans to wait another day to try to claim their first match victory in this edition of the Ryder Cup.
"You know, it's the intention of the moment, right, and then the fact that something happens is truly unique. I've got to give Nicolai props because, over here on 18, he gave me the freedom to basically go at it, and he told me to hit a putt, try to make it. And he said, 'What would Seve do? Do it for Seve' I don't know if he would have quite made it like that, but I'm sure glad that it went in."
Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter recap a wild Day 1 of the 2023 Ryder Cup. The crew recaps both sessions and Europe's fast start at Marco Simone. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.