Europe back in the hunt
Europe staged a fantastic afternoon fightback to cut the United States' lead to 5-3 after day one of The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National.
The Americans had swept the morning foursomes 4-0, leaving Europe needing to make some inroads in the fourballs to keep their dream of four consecutive victories alive and Darren Clarke's men responded in style.
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose got the ball rolling with a 5 and 4 victory over Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth - the pair putting Europe's first point on the board in the fourballs for the second Ryder Cup in a row.
The USA moved 5-1 ahead as Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker beat Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett 5 and 4 but Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia closed out a 3 and 2 win over JB Holmes and Ryan Moore, and Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters beat Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar by the same margin.
Reed and Spieth had beaten Rose and Stenson 3 and 2 in the foursomes but the Europeans returned the favour in style.
Reed put the USA ahead on the first with a three but a Rose birdie on the fourth squared things up before Stenson found another gear. The Swede made a smart birdie on the seventh after Rose had gone in the water and then nearly holed his tee-shot on the eighth to put Europe two up at the turn.
Reed and Spieth both got in trouble off the 12th tee with a Rose par enough to take the hole before an excellent tee-shot set up another Stenson birdie and Rose completed the job with a gain of his own on the next to put the duo nine under for 14 holes.
"Henrik and I did what we do best," said Rose. "We just stuck with it, trusted our games, trusted ourselves and we got on a little run. We dovetailed beautifully and made a bunch of birdies. I relied on my partner again and he delivered."
"We were playing very nicely in the afternoon, made a couple of putts that we didn't do in the morning and it seemed like they got possibly a little bit tired," added Stenson.
"It makes it sweeter though, when you beat the guys you lost to in the morning, that's for sure."
Willett made an impressive start to his Ryder Cup career, holing a 35-footer for a half on the first but after that it was all Snedeker and Koepka. Snedeker made birdies on the second and fifth with Koepka adding gains on the third and eighth to put the USA four up.
Another Willett monster - this one from 40 feet - cut the gap at the turn but back-to-back birdies from Snedeker on the tenth and 11th put the home side in total control.
"You're playing against the 24 best guys in the world pretty much here," said Willett. "If they have a day like that and we have a bit of a stale one, that's going to happen. It's unfortunate."
Cabrera Bello showed no signs of nerves on his debut, hitting a beautiful drive and then an approach to six feet to win the first before fellow Spaniard Garcia put an approach to tap-in range on the fifth.
Cabrera Bello birdied the next and Garcia put the duo four up at the turn, with Ryan Moore birdies on the 14th and 15th setting up a tense finish before Garcia birdied the 16th.
"It's been a real honour to play today," said Cabrera Bello. "If I would have picked a partner, I couldn't have picked anyone better than him to join me in my first Ryder Cup match.
"I'm proud that we played great that we felt very comfortable, we rooted for one another and that we got the point for Europe."
Garcia added: "I love it. I love golf. Obviously this is very special for us. And to play with this guy, he was a rock out there. He gave me so much confidence to be able to go for shots and go for putts."
The teams in the final match exchanged the opening holes before Europe won four in a row from the fourth with two clutch putts from McIlroy sandwiched by birdies from Pieters.
Johnson birdied the 11th but an excellent putt from Pieters re-established the four-hole lead before the United States won the 14th and 15th to set nerves jangling.
McIlroy is a man for the big occasion, though, and he played a brilliant approach to the 16th to set up an eagle and seal the win,
"It's incredible," said McIlroy. "I've played one Ryder Cup in the US and this is definitely a little more hostile than the one at Medinah.
"I just want to let people know how much it means to us. This guy beside me all day was absolutely incredible. It's his first Ryder Cup and he played so well. A lot of credit has to go to Thomas, as well."