Saturday 3 December 2016

Feisty McIlroy sends Ryder Cup message to raucous American fans

Published 01/10/2016 | 00:22

Rory McIlroy sarcastically bows to a muted American crowd after he holed the final putt to win his match. Photo: USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy sarcastically bows to a muted American crowd after he holed the final putt to win his match. Photo: USA TODAY Sports
Europe's Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters react on the seventh green in the afternoon four-ball matches during the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Europe's Justin Rose tees off from the first during day one
Thomas Pieters
Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the fairway on the tenth hole in the afternoon four-ball matches during the 41st Ryder Cup. Photo: USA Today Sports
Europe team captain Darren Clarke during the Fourball's on day one of the 41st Ryder Cup. Photo: PA
USA's Ryan Moore reacts to a birdie putt on the 14th hole during a four-balls match at the Ryder Cup. Photo: AP
USA's Ryan Moore reacts to a putt on the eighth green in the afternoon four-ball matches during the 41st Ryder Cup. Photo: USA Today Sports
USA's JB Holmes and Ryan Moore celebrate on the 13th during the Fourball's on day one of the 41st Ryder Cup. Photo: PA
USA's Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka celebrate after winning their match in the afternoon four-ball matches. Photo: USA Today Sports
Europe's Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrate after winning their match in the afternoon four-ball matches during the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Photo: USA TODAY Sports

A pumped-up Rory McIlroy vowed to silence the “hostile” American crowd, as he led the European fight back on a thrilling opening day at the 41st Ryder Cup.

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After USA stormed into an ominous a 4-0 lead in the opening foursomes, Europe took three points from the afternoon four ball matches to head into day two 5-3 behind and it was McIlroy and his rookie partner Thomas Pieters who emerged as the leader of their pack as he inspired a sparkling 3&2 win against Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.

McIlroy was unusually animated as he produced a series of loud roars to greet big putts of his own and those of Pieters, as he clearly relished the chance to beat Johnson after a somewhat fractious rivalry has built up between the duo in recent weeks.

McIlroy sarcastically bowed to a muted American crowd as he holed the final putt in his match, with the Irishman bullish in his interview on the edge of the 16th green as he made a point to the raucous American crowd.

“It’s pretty hostile out there,” conceded McIlroy. “You don’t want to let that get to you but you want to let them know when you hole a putt what it means to you.

“We were trying to keep the pressure on, but I gave Thomas a lot to do in the middle of the round. A lot of credit to this guy….he’s taken to the Ryder Cup so naturally.

Europe's Rory McIlroy celebrates his putt to win his round during the Fourball's on day one of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Photo: PA
Europe's Rory McIlroy celebrates his putt to win his round during the Fourball's on day one of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Photo: PA

“The consensus at lunch was we have to chip away at the lead. It was to get some points on the board and I don’t think we could have dreamed it any better this afternoon.

“We are probably going into our locker room a little bit happier than they are.”

Europe captain Darren Clarke was content with a salvaged opening day, as he looked forward to the second day in the knowledge that his team is firmly in the mix after recovering from their disastrous start.

“I’m massively proud of them,” said the Irishman. “The boys were bitterly disappointed at lunchtime, I’m not going to deny that, but the guys came out this afternoon and the golf was scintillating.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them. It’s match play golf between 24 of the best players in the world and anything can happen.

“We’re going to go and have a conversation to get our pairings for the morning. When we got off to a poor start it’s not what I thought would happen but we’re only two behind now.”

USA captain Davis Love III did his best to disguise his disappointment as his team allowed the momentum they had built up in the morning session to slip away, but he offered an upbeat view of day that saw his side establish what could be a vital lead.

“You know it’s going to be a close match. We had a great morning, they had a great afternoon,” said Love.

“We shot low scores, just got beat by a team playing unbelievable golf.

“We hit the ball well in the afternoon matches, but the putts didn’t drop. Everybody was under par, we just didn’t play great and Europe played great.

“We need to start over again tomorrow. It’s another day and we try to win every session.”

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