Europe roar back to lead on gripping opening day

Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:25pm EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - The Ryder Cup delivered high drama yet again as Europe produced a stirring fightback to win three of the foursomes matches against the United States and take a 5-3 lead after a tense and hugely entertaining first day on Friday.

The Americans had much the best of the morning fourballs, the highlight being a remarkable performance by rookie duo Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth to hammer European talisman Ian Poulter and Scottish new boy Stephen Gallacher 5 & 4.

That helped the visitors to a 2 1/2-1 1/2 lead after a session in which gusting winds made low scoring difficult but merely added to the drama for the fans who swamped the Gleneagles course.

But Europe roared back in the alternate-shot foursomes format as Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson secured their second point with a two-up victory over Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson having earlier hammered Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 5 & 4.

Europe's strongest pair on paper, world numbers one and three Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, struggled all day and were well beaten by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the fourballs.

They looked to be going down again when they trailed Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler by two with two to play in the afternoon but a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th by McIlroy and a brilliant second from deep rough by Garcia on the last enabled them to scramble an unlikely points.

"I think that half was as a good as a win," said European captain Paul McGinley after seeing Europe post their best-ever foursomes result.

"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."   Continued...

European Ryder Cup players Jamie Donaldson (C) and Lee Westwood  (R) celebrate as they stand by U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson on the 18th green after winning their foursomes 40th Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles in Scotland September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble