Finau gets NFL feel, Koepka shot hits fan at Ryder Cup

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France) (AFP) –


Three-time major winner Brooks Koepka shook off hitting a spectator with an errant shot while Tony Finau blasted the opening tee shot in an "NFL" atmosphere for a key Ryder Cup fightback Friday.

The American duo rallied from 2-down after eight holes to defeat Europe's Jon Rahm and Justin Rose 1-up in the opening four-ball match of the biennial team golf showdown at Le Golf National.

"It was a big point, swinging that one, because it looked like they were going to win the match pretty much the whole way," Koepka said. "To come back and really be able to flip it like that was really a two-point swing."

On the sixth hole, Koepka hit a spectator in the face with a shot.

"It looked like it hurt. She was bleeding pretty good," Koepka said. "It looked like it hit her right in the eye so hopefully there's no loss of vision.

"It's not a fun feeling. I probably do it way more than I should. It seems just about every week we're hitting somebody and it's unfortunate. You're never trying to. It doesn't feel good. You feel terrible for them."

Koepka didn't know he had struck someone until a spectator yelled it at him.

"I turned around and you see someone is lying on the ground and you're thinking, 'Oh shoot, I did it again,'" Koepka said.

Koepka won the par-3 11th and par-4 13th holes with birdies and Finau, who eagled the par-4 sixth, birdied the par-3 16th to square the match, setting up Koepka's birdie at 18. It gave the Americans their only lead and the one that mattered most.

"The big reason Brooks and I are paired together (was) just our attitude, just not giving up," Finau said. "We kept telling each other just one hole at a time. Lets see if we can stretch this match out."

- Like an NFL game -

Finau, the first US PGA player of Tongan or Samoan heritage, struck the first shot of the Ryder Cup in a crucible of 7,000 spectators, cheering and screaming so loudly he felt like he was at an NFL game.

"First tee shot was not like anything I've been involved with before," said Finau, the final captain's pick of US boss Jim Furyk.

"It was a feeling like a football game back in the States, an NFL game, and I'm in the middle of the field and I have to hit a tee shot. I have to make a golf swing with all that adrenaline.

"It was incredible. Just to be in that atmosphere, it was electric."

Finau's shot nearly rolled into the water but stopped short.

Koepka, the reigning PGA Championship and US Open champion, was impressed by just how loud the crowd was.

"European fans do an incredible job of being loud and being behind their team," Koepka said.

Finau and Koepka had asked to play first and Furyk granted their wish.

"We wanted to set the tone for this Ryder Cup," Finau said. "I'm extremely proud were able to win the point for our team."