Juston Rose marks his Ruder Cup debut with the opening tee shot in his match with Ian Poulter(Getty Images)

Europe make dream start

By Steve Todd-

Print News

Europe's bid to claim a record fourth successive Ryder Cup got off to the perfect start when three of Nick Faldo's foursome pairings seized an advantage on the opening hole.

There was an electric atmosphere on the first tee as fans packed the galleries at Valhalla Golf Club to watch the players take on golf's most nerve racking shot.

Chants of 'There's only Nick Faldo' rang out from the pockets of blue, with the American fans quickly responding with shouts of USA as the intense build up to The 2008 Ryder Cup finally came to the boil.

The biggest cheers were reserved for the players with Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson receiving a rapturous welcome from a sizeable European contingent in the grandstand as they walked on to the tee for the opening match against Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim.

Three-time Major winner Harrington had the honour of striking the opening tee shot and showed the ice-coolness that defined his Open Championship and US PGA Championship victories when he found the middle of the fairway. Mickelson duly followed suit but a fine approach shot from Karlsson to eight feet set up the first birdie opportunity and Harrington sank the putt to put Europe 1 up, claiming an early advantage for Europe.

Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson then followed the example of the lead pairing when the American duo of Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan conceded the hole after a fine approach from Stenson set up a birdie chance for Casey.

Ian Poulter and Justin Rose then halved their opening hole against Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell, despite Campbell's wayward drive finding the thick rough.

One of the loudest cheers from the galleries then greeted the home favourite, Kentuckian Kenny Perry, when he strode out on to the first tee alongside Jim Furyk. However Lee Westwood's booming drive and a fine approach shot to nine yards from Sergio Garcia set up a birdie putt for Westwood and Europe went 1 up after Perry found the greenside bunker.

It was a dream start for Faldo's team but as previous Ryder Cups have shown, there promises to be plenty of drama and excitement over the next three days.