Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell with Colin Montgomerie (Getty Images)
Montgomerie: Fractions between the teams
Colin Montgomerie described the half point won by Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell as ‘vital’ after a promising end to the first session.
By Sarah Gwynn, europeantour.com
McIlroy holed a 35ft putt on the 17th to win the hole and go back to all square with Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, and that was how it stood after McDowell and Kuchar traded pars at the 18th.
Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer had already put Europe’s first point on the board courtesy of a 3&2 win over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, and for the Northern Irish duo to add to the tally was crucial as the pairings of Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher and Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald both lost their matches.
“Rory's and McDowell's game was most important - 2½-1½ is okay, it's a fraction,” said Montgomerie. “If we get a good start here and win the first couple of games we get the lead now and we get this crowd going. This crowd are ready to go now and it's up to us to do it.
“It was a super putt Rory hit at the 17th. It was just unfortunate at the last hole (when McIlroy went in the water with his second shot). He was telling me afterwards he could have made it easily but just caught it heavy with his second shot.
“We usually like a slight upslope with a 3 wood and he found it. He just caught it a bit heavy unfortunately but it was marvellous to come back from two down with seven to go last night and to get something out of that game. That was vital for us.”
McDowell said of his partner: “He's one of the best players I've ever seen in the world and to play alongside him, a very good friend of mine, was great. To watch him hole that putt on the 17th and really arrive at The Ryder Cup for the first time was amazing. He played really great this morning and like I say, it's a real honour to play alongside him.”
Padraig Harrington was disappointed to have added to Europe’s tally from their match against Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson, but could not wait to get back out on the course this afternoon.
“It was tough,” he said. “We got off to a bad start and Jeff birdieing those five holes when we came back out didn't help us. We didn't make enough birdies. It's nice to get back out on the golf course. When you lose a match, you want to get back out there and play again.”
Donald added: “We’re disappointed to lose, obviously. We didn't make enough birdies. Jeff played very nicely. He kept putting the pressure on, and we just couldn't get back on even terms.”