McIlroy and McDowell get the first blue on the board at Medinah
Last Updated: 29/09/12 3:25pm
Duo lead European charge
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell held off a storming fightback from Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker to win Europe's first point of the Ryder Cup at Medinah.
The Northern Irishmen looked poised for a comfortable victory at three up with six to play before the home pair won three of the next four holes to take them up the 18th.
But a poor drive from Snedeker led to a bogey, while McIlroy splashed out of sand to six feet and McDowell held his nerve to rap in the winning putt.
Both pairs struggled to hit fairways and greens early on, McDowell's opening drive setting the tone when he clipped a tree 100 yards from the tee and the ball ended up deep in the galleries.
A poor chip from McDowell at the second led to a bogey as the Americans drew first blood, but McIlroy got the pulses racing with a stunning chip-in from 45-feet for an unlikely birdie at the fourth.
A solid par at the sixth took the Europeans one up, although they gifted a hole back when they ran up a scrappy bogey at the eighth.
McDowell then nailed a 15-footer for a winning birdie at nine, and Furyk sportingly called a penalty shot on himself at the next when his ball moved after he took a practice swing.
McIlroy saved par from 10 feet at the 11th but McDowell could not follow suit at 13, although he did sink a superb birdie putt at 14 to retain their two-hole lead.
But McDowell's tee shot at the driveable 15th found the water, and Furyk's sublime approach to four feet at 16 squared the match.
However, Snedeker's blocked drive at the last opened the door for the US Open champions, and they took advantage to get the first blue on the board.
"That match just personifies the Ryder Cup," said McDowell. "You're playing against two very gutsy players who clawed their way back.
"But we had stacked our team with this finish in mind. I wanted Rory hitting the tee shots on 16 and 18 and our strategy paid off."
McIlroy added: "Fortunately for us, Brandt didn't hit the best tee shot on the last."