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Poulter and Woods st
Ian Poulter and Tiger Woods shake hands after the US edged ahead after the first session (Getty Images)

US take early lead

Europe claimed the first point in the rain-delayed Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort, more than 25 hours after the contest started, but the United States secured a one point lead after the opening fourballs.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell then came back from two down with six to play to halve their match with Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, but the rookie pairing of Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson completed a 3 & 2 win over Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.

And Steve Stricker then carried Tiger Woods to a two hole victory over Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher.

Westwood, playing his first match since August 6 after a calf injury which threatened his participation, said: "It's good to be here, it makes the hard work and the rehab worth it.

"But like other Ryder Cups I picked a good partner. The atmosphere seems to get better - every green, every tee and down the fairways they are screaming your name. It's unbelievable.

"Of course it's nice to get the first point on the board, Monty sent us out with that intention and goal."

McIlroy prompted the biggest cheer of the week so far with a birdie from 30 feet on the 17th to get back on level terms and ensure the second match would go down the 18th.

All four players found the 18th fairway but Kuchar and McDowell were too far back to go for the green and sensibly laid up.

Cink and McIlroy went for it in two, but Cink's came up just short of the green and rolled back down the steep slope into the water, while McIlroy - who hit the longest drive - hit an awful approach which never threatened to find dry land.

"I've got you covered, it's all right," McDowell said to McIlroy as they walked down the fairway, but his heart was in his mouth moments later when his pitch span back past the flag and was lucky to stop millimetres short of rolling into the water as well.

That left McDowell and Kuchar with putts of around 20 feet for birdie, but neither player was able to convert.

"Rory was on maximum yardage and didn't quite make it," McDowell said. "When mine landed I would not have taken it back for a second, but about five or six seconds later I would have done. Thankfully the greens staff left a little bit of fringe.

"This kid (McIlroy) was unbelievable this morning. We struggled yesterday but this guy was off the charts this morning. He's one of the best players in the world and one of the best I've ever seen."

McIlroy added: "I said to G-Mac walking up to 17 let's try to make a two and I was able to do it. It was an unbelievable feeling with so much support and buzz from the crowd. This is certainly different.

"We could have sneaked a win on the last but from two down with six to play we'd probably have taken a half."

The players were soon back out on the course in six foursomes matches, two more than usual after the format was altered due to Friday's rain delay.

The schedule was also altered with Woods and Stricker initially named in the first match but then moved to the fourth after being last to finish their fourball match this morning.

They were soon one up on Miguel Angel Jiménez and Peter Hanson as the European pair bogeyed the first, but Westwood and Kaymer were soon two up on Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler.

A par five was good enough to win the second hole and they were also gifted the fourth when Fowler inadvertently dropped the wrong ball in taking a free drop from the muddy ground following Furyk's drive into trouble.

Edoardo and Francesco Molinari were pumped up on their Cup debut and all square with Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan after five holes of the first match.
 

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