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Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
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Europe

Europe on song again on Saturday

Experienced duo Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia led from the front as Europe picked up where they left off at the Ryder Cup on Saturday morning.

Thomas Bjørn's side came into the second day with a 5-3 lead after bouncing back from losing the opening fourballs session 3-1 to record the biennal contest's first-ever whitewash in the afternoon foursomes.

And fortunately for Bjørn, there were no such early struggles on day two as Garcia and McIlroy put an early point on the board, beating Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka 2 and 1, to increase Europe's lead.

But they were made to work hard for their victory as the American pair reduced their lead from four holes to one in the closing stages.

Playing in the top match, McIlroy and Garcia fired respective birdies at the third and fourth to take an early two-hole lead at Le Golf National.

Finau, who chipped in for an eagle at the sixth on Friday, holed his bunker shot at the fifth for a spectacular birdie but McIlroy matched him with a putt from 15 feet to show the Americans yesterday morning's slow start was just a blip.

The Northern Irishman continued to impress, chipping to within ten feet at the sixth before rolling in his birdie putt to extend Europe's advantage.

And the European pair went four holes up after eight when McIlroy knocked in his 30-foot putt and Finau missed his birdie effort from just under ten feet.

Koepka got a hole back for Team USA at the ninth, notching a birdie when Garcia could only manage a par, but the Spaniard restored Europe's four-hole lead at the 11th when he drained his quick downhill birdie putt and Finau missed from close range.

Europe could have gone five up at the next but Finau matched McIlroy's birdie to halve the hole and remain four back.

After the 13th was halved in fours, Koepka reduced America's deficit to three with a superb up-and-down at the 14th Finau holed his close-range par putt at the next to close the gap to just two holes.

Finau's birdie at the short 16th piled the pressure on Europe but Garcia nervelessly holed his birdie putt at the 17th to wrap up the match.

Europe also clinched the second point of the day as Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey beat World Number One Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 3 and 2 to make it seven wins in a row for Bjørn's men.

Casey made a lightning-fast start on Saturday, birdieing five of the first six holes to put Europe two up.

Hatton increased their advantage when he nailed his birdie putt at the eighth before making another gain at the long ninth, only for Johnson to match his effort.

World Number One Johnson made a birdie at the short 11th to win America's first hole since the second and reduce their arrears to two.

After Hatton held his nerve to halve the 13th with a close-range birdie putt, Casey's birdie was enough to win the 14th after Fowler's ten-foot putt horseshoed the hole.

And after the 15th and 16th were halved, Europe won to make it 7-3.

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari's golden partnership produced a third point for Europe as they beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed in a repeat of Friday's fourballs encounter.

The 4 and 3 victory put Europe 8-3 up and equalled the record for the most points won in consecutive sessions.

Fleetwood, who looked right at home on his Ryder Cup debut on Friday, started well again on day two, rolling in from 25 feet for a birdie at the second to put Europe one up.

At the third, Reed and Fleetwood both drove into the water, Woods found the heavy left rough and neither of the Americans could even make par as Molinari and Fleetwood went two up.

Woods notched USA's first birdie of the day at the seventh to peg Molinari and Fleetwood back.

And the 14-time Major Champion levelled things up with a close-range birdie at the tenth.

But Molinari reeled off three straight birdies from the 11th to put the Europeans three up before Fleetwood's par at the 15th secured the point.

The United States won their only point of the session in the anchor match as Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas beat Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm 2 and 1 to make it 8-4.

The American pair took an early lead courtesy of Spieth's birdie at the short second but a par from Rahm at the fourth had Europe back on level terms.

And Poulter holed a lengthy birdie putt at the seventh to put Europe in front.

But their lead did not last long as birdies at the eighth, 11th and 12th gave the Americans a two-hole advantage.

Rahm's three at the 13th cut the gap back to one but Thomas fired a birdie at the 17th to put a vital red point on the board.