It’s a case of afternoon delight for Europeans in Day 1 of Ryder Cup
GLENEAGLES, Scotland // Europe dominated the afternoon foursomes to grab a 5-3 lead after the first day of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland.
With the United States ahead 2.5-1.5 after yesterday morning’s fourballs, Europe won three of the alternate-shot matches in the second session and halved the fourth.
Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia looked listless and flat against Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, but the Europeans did what great champions do in adversity.
The world Nos 1 and 3 appeared to be heading for their second defeat of the day, two down with two holes to go in the afternoon foursomes and with a partisan home crowd quietened almost to the point of silence.
Then, out of the European blue, McIlroy drilled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th to bring the fans and the partnership to life.
Cries of “Europe, Europe, Europe” rang around the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course and the pair celebrated with a delighted hug and a high-five.
McIlroy and Garcia still needed another big effort to snatch a precious half-point and again it seemed unlikely as the 25-year-old Northern Irishman produced a wild drive that ended up behind a tree in the right rough.
This time it was Garcia who came to the rescue, bending a five-wood approach from left to right to within 12 feet of the pin.
The two Americans could only find a greenside bunker and, after Fowler failed to convert his birdie attempt from 18 feet, McIlroy safely two-putted to prompt another deafening chorus of approval from the galleries.
“I think that Sergio Garcia’s and Rory McIlroy’s halve was as good as a win,” Europe captain Paul McGinley said with a beaming smile after the holders brilliant afternoon recovery gave them a two-point lead to take into Day 2 competition.
“We have seen in Ryder Cups over the years how important momentum is and we showed real strength of character to respond to that American surge and get blue back on the board.”
McIlroy acknowledged that he and Garcia needed seriously to up their game over the closing holes.
“We were making life difficult for ourselves,” McIlroy said. “That was the shot of the day there from Sergio.”
Garcia said his spectacular approach shot at the 18th got him out of jail.
“I felt like I owed Rory a lot today,” the Spaniard said. “We fought hard as we knew we weren’t playing good. That half-point is huge for us.”
It did not look so good after the morning sessions where McIlroy and Garcia lost 1 up to Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson.
Along with the 5 and 4 win by Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed over Europe’s Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter, the US led by a point entering the afternoon foursomes session.
That is where the Europeans woke up. First, Lee Westwood and rookie Jamie Donaldson pulled Europe level by beating Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar 2 up.
Then Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson won their second match of the day, beating Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson 2 and 1. Down by 2 with one hole to play.
McIlroy and Garcia grabbed that half-point and Graeme McDowell and French rookie Victor Dubuisson secured the final point, defeating Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley 3 and 2.
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Updated: September 26, 2014 04:00 AM