Top News
Rory in silhouette
Top News

Europe

Honours even in early stages at Hazeltine

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters led the European charge on a tight second morning of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National.

A McIlroy eagle on the 16th had sparked wild celebrations on Friday evening as the pair helped Europe fight back from 4-0 down to 5-3 and the pair were sent out first in the second set of foursomes by Darren Clarke.

They were repaying that faith midway through their match against Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson as they sat two up after 11 but there was trouble in match four with Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia three down against Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth after eight.

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Henrik Stenson were one down against Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker after 11 holes, while Justin Rose and Chris Wood were one up against Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker with eight to play.

The morning got off to a stunning start as Fowler holed from 22 feet on the first to put the pressure on Pieters but the Belgian responded from 20 feet and gave the home fans a shush.

McIlroy gave the Americans what looked like a generous concession on the second but it made no difference as he hammered home an eight-footer for birdie and a one up lead.

The United States made a smart par save on the third but got in serious trouble on the next two, with Mickelson being forced into his second right-handed shot of the week on the fifth, and Europe were three up.

Pieters put his tee-shot in the water on the seventh but after an excellent approach shot from the drop by McIlroy, he bailed himself out by making a nervy par putt for a half that prompted fist-pumping celebrations.

In the second match, bogeys on the first after going over the green and the fourth after a missed short Stenson putt had Europe two down but Fitzpatrick holed a clutch 15-footer on the seventh to cut the gap.

The first hole was halved in birdies in match four but Reed then put brilliant approaches into the second and third and Spieth did the rest to put the Americans two up after three birdies in a row.

They made another birdie on the fifth as Spieth holed a chip but Garcia followed him in, although the lead was extended on the sixth after Cabrera Bello got in bunker trouble to surrender a bogey.

A first bogey of the day from McIlroy and Pieters on the ninth cut their lead to two holes at the turn and an American birdie after a wild McIlroy tee-shot on the tenth had it down to one.

An 18-footer on the next from Mcilroy then prompted more big celebrations to get the lead back up to two holes with seven to play.

Match three had been a nip and tuck affair with the teams sharing four pars a birdie and a bogey over the first six holes but a ten-foot putt from Rose edged Europe ahead on the seventh.