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Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 18:14 UK
Valhalla GC, Kentucky
19-21 September

37th Ryder Cup - USA v Europe
Venue: Valhalla, Kentucky Date: 19-21 September Coverage: Daily highlights on BBC TV and BBC Sport website, Live on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky Sports and updates/commentary on Red Button and BBC Sport website

By Mark Orlovac

Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan claimed the first point for the US together with Justin Leonard

The United States fought back to take a 3-1 lead after the opening foursomes of the 37th Ryder Cup in Valhalla.

Holders Europe led in all four matches early on but the US went 1-0 up through Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan's 3&2 win over Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson.

Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim rallied against Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson to take a half, before Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell won at the last.

But Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood won the last two holes to gain a half.

It is the first time the United States have won the opening session of the Ryder Cup since Kiawah Island in 1991.

And it was the perfect start for Paul Azinger's side, who went into the match without injured world number one Tiger Woods and were regarded as massive underdogs.

It looked ominous for the home side early on as the Europeans, looking for their fourth win in a row and their ninth victory in the last 12 Ryder Cups, got off to superb start and led in all four matches.

But the momentum soon swung behind the Americans, as they battled back to take a two-point lead.

Three-time European captain Bernard Gallacher

"It was a tough session," said European skipper Nick Faldo. "They gave 100% but this is the thing about the Ryder Cup - you have to forget it all pretty quickly and get out there again."

Leonard and Mahan grabbed the first point for the US even though they dropped the opening two holes.

They then won three in a row to grab the initiative and they never looked back, going two up at the turn and closing off the tie at the 16th hole to give Leonard his first victory in nine Ryder Cup matches.

Open and USPGA champion Harrington and Swede Karlsson looked comfortable against Mickelson and Kim, leading by three holes after 12.

But they too could not hold onto their advantage as Karlsson started to fade, while world number two Mickelson produced some inspired golf - including a wonderful lob from the back of the 14th green.

The Americans levelled the match up at the 16th and they made sure of a half as Harrington's putt for the win slipped agonisingly past after both tee-shots had found sand at the last.

"We had a chance at the last hole," said Harrington. "We had a putt to win from 10 feet and I thought I had holed it. Besides that, we can't be disappointed. We didn't leave too many shots out there."

Justin Rose and controversial wildcard pick Ian Poulter lost 1up against Cink and Campbell despite being three ahead after seven holes.

Despite their poor start, Cink and Campbell drew level on the 13th after Poulter found water and the European pair did not lead the match again.

The contest was level going up the last but Cink and Campbell clinched the point after Rose left his approach shot short in a bunker.

Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk had to settle for a half against Garcia and Westwood despite being two up with two to play.

At the 17th Perry missed a match-winning putt before pushing his tee shot at the last into the water as the European duo escaped, even though it spoiled Garcia's perfect record in Ryder Cup foursomes.

"Any time you get out of jail it makes a massive difference and can be a momentum swinger," said Westwood.

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see also
Ryder Cup day one as it happened
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day one photos
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Harrington & Karlsson lead Europe
18 Sep 08 |  Golf
Price fears for Europe fortunes
18 Sep 08 |  Golf
Poulter welcomes Clarke support
17 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup explained
16 Sep 08 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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