Friday, 28 September 2012
Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
There was plenty of tension on the first tee as Graeme McDowell got Europe’s bid to defend The Ryder Cup underway.

Partnering World Number One Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irishman drove left of the first fairway in the opening foursomes game.

American Jim Furyk, playing with FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker then followed suit with a near identical pull.

McIlroy and Snedeker were able to recover from their partner’s wayward drives and the first hole was halved in fours.

As they moved on to the par three second Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia took to the first tee to defend their incredible foursomes record of four wins out of four.

Donald split the fairway with his opening drive, but Keegan Bradley did the same – and went 40 yards further – for the US.

Neither Garcia nor Phil Mickelson took full advantage with their approaches and the first was halved in pars again, with Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari next onto the tee to face Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

McIlroy missed a five footer at the second as America drew first blood, and Davis Love’s side took the hole again in the second game out when Bradley sunk a 20 footer for birdie.

Europe got off the mark in game three, however, as Molinari played a terrific approach to the first and Johnson came up short of the green leading to a US bogey.

As they made their way to the second, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose came out to contest the final game of the morning session against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker – the World Number Two hooking his opening tee shot.

America took the second in all of the top three games – Johnson’s magnificent tee shot leaving Dufner a simple five footer for birdie to leave game three all square.

McIlroy levelled the top game with a magical chip-in at the fourth for birdie, while at the first Stricker produced a fantastic recovery from Woods’ wayward opener but Rose kept the pressure on by firing his approach to 15 feet.

The American final pair had another nightmare off the tee at the second, Stricker finding the water in front of the green and double bogeying to leave Poulter and Rose one up.

Westwood and Molinari took the fourth with a par and Donald and Garcia almost eagled the long fifth, but the birdie was good enough to level the contest and as a result the only colour on the board was the European blue in games three and four.

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