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Patrick Reed took down Rory McIlroy
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Europe

Europe up against it

Europe had it all to do to keep hold of The Ryder Cup as the 41st edition of golf's biggest event moved towards its conclusion at Hazeltine National.

Captain Darren Clarke had sent experienced players and in-form rookies out at the top of the draw in the singles in an attempt to get Europe off to a flying start as they went looking for 7½ points to retain the trophy.

Those tactics bore some early fruit as Henrik Stenson beat Jordan Spieth 3 and 2 and Thomas Pieters overcame JB Holmes by the same score to claim four points out of five on his Ryder Cup debut.

Rory McIlroy was defeated one up by Patrick Reed in the top match but with Rafa Cabrera Bello two up with three to play against Jimmy Walker, things were looking good for Europe in the top half of the draw.

Things were not looking good further down the board, however, with Europe four down in one match, two down in four more, and one down in another, meaning a turnaround of huge proportions was needed to stop the cup ending up in American hands for the first time in eight years.

Reed and McIlroy had been the form men for their teams all week and they produced a front nine of the highest quality making eight birdies and an eagle between them to reach the turn all square.

A brilliant up and down from Reed coupled with a McIlroy birdie put the American one up and another up and down got him dormie on the 16th before McIlroy hit back on the next and the last was halved.

A brilliant putt on the ninth moved Stenson one up against Spieth and he added further gains on the 11th and 13th with an eagle on the 16th closing things out with the American in the water.

Pieters and Holmes were all square at the turn in their game but that did not tell the full story, with the Belgian having fought back from surrendering the first two holes to edge ahead before a Holmes birdie on the ninth.

Pieters then made it seven birdies for the day on the 11th, 14th and 16th to seal an emphatic win.

Danny Willett was four down with six to play against Brooks Koepka, while Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood, Martin Kaymer and Matthew Fitzpatrick were all two down in their matches.

Sergio Garcia trailed Phil Mickelson by one hole with four to play, while Justin Rose and Lee Westwood were all square against Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore.