Rory McIlroy pleased to make right impression as Europe finish with a flourish
Rory McIlroy admitted he took great delight in putting an "exclamation point" on Europe's brilliant Ryder Cup fightback at a hostile Hazeltine.
Darren Clarke's side were whitewashed in the opening foursomes in front of a raucous home crowd, but responded superbly to win three of the afternoon fourballs and end the day just 5-3 behind.
McIlroy formed an excellent partnership with rookie Thomas Pieters to beat US Open champion Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, the world number three sealing a 3&2 win with a stunning eagle on the par-five 16th.
"O n behalf of the European team as a whole, we're absolutely delighted to go into tomorrow with not quite the deficit that we were facing going into this afternoon's fourballs," McIlroy said.
" As you could probably imagine, the mood in the team room just there was quite buoyant and we definitely feel like there was a shift in momentum.
"Even before I hit that (eagle) putt, I wanted to put an exclamation point on that session for us. I honestly actually thought about the celebration before I hit the putt. I knew it had a good chance of going in. It was downhill, I just had to get it started on the right line and gravity did the rest.
"It's a hostile environment out there and I just want everyone that's watching out there to know how much this means to us, how much it means to me personally and obviously us as a team. We're not going down without a fight."
Asked if he was concerned about riling the home crowd with his celebration, McIlroy joked: "N o, no worries on my part. I bowed to them, said, "You're welcome for the show," and we move on."
McIlroy admitted he was disappointed that poor European shots were being cheered by the home fans, especially when foursomes partner Andy Sullivan found the water with his tee shot on the 17th.
But he added: "Most of the people out there are respectful and are just cheering really hard for the US team. That's totally acceptable and that's exactly what happens in Europe.
"But still, it's a hostile environment that the people out there don't want you to hole a putt. They don't want you to hit a good shot. I think when you do hole a putt or hit a good shot, it just makes it that much more satisfying."
McIlroy did not shake hands with Johnson's caddie, his brother Austin, after the match but insisted: "T hat definitely wasn't my intention at all and I'll send him a text or go and find him in the hotel tonight to apologise to him. I just got caught up in the whole scenario."