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Page last updated at 23:32 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 00:32 UK

US surge clear as Europe struggle

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

USA's Justin Leonard

Report: USA dominate Ryder Cup day one (UK only)

The United States will take a 5½-2½ lead into day two of the 37th Ryder Cup after dominating defending champions Europe on the opening day at Valhalla.

Leading 3-1 after the foursomes, Paul Azinger's side won two of the four afternoon fourball matches.

Hunter Mahan and Justin Leonard had two wins while Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim claimed a win and a half despite being behind in their two matches.

Ian Poulter and Justin Rose's fourball triumph was Europe's only victory.

However, as the opening day drew to a close, Lee Westwood and Denmark's Soren Hansen did give Europe a lift with a hard-earned half against JB Holmes and Boo Weekley after winning the final hole.

It was a day where some of Europe's big guns failed to shine, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington claiming just a half each from their two matches.

Nick Faldo's team must now quickly regroup after a day which saw them squander leading positions in both sessions.

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"We played hard and gave 100%," said Faldo. "We are down in points but fortunately, thanks to Soren and Lee, we are really up in spirits."

The United States, without injured world number one Tiger Woods and regarded as underdogs before the event, are now in a strong position to claim their first Ryder Cup victory since Brookline in 1999.

"Clearly we haven't led in a long time so we're real happy about that. I was just real proud of everybody," said Azinger.

"It could have gone either way today. There were some nice comebacks. Everybody kind of stayed on point, stayed in the present and just kept going."

If anything symbolised the home side's opening-day performance it was the miraculous recoveries from Mickelson and Kim, who rescued 1½ points from seemingly impossible positions.

In the morning they were three down against Harrington and Swede Robert Karlsson but rescued a half at the last, and they again looked doomed in the afternoon against Harrington and Ryder Cup debutant Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

RYDER CUP BLOG
BBC Sport's Alex Trickett

Harrington and McDowell were 3 up after four holes but they could not hang on, Mickelson winning the 5th, 9th and 13th before Kim's birdie at the 14th put the American duo ahead for the first time.

The nerveless McDowell won the 15th but when Mickelson drained a 30-footer from the front of the 17th green the game was up, and Kim's birdie at the last sealed the 2up victory.

"We played with a lot of heart and emotion," said Mickelson. "We were down in both matches and came back to win one and tied the other. It's been a good day for the US."

Azinger retained the partnership of Leonard and Mahan after they had come from two down to defeat Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson in the morning foursomes.

The move paid off as the pair never looked back after taking the lead at the first against the out-of-sorts Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The Spanish duo could only win two holes all afternoon and Leonard sealed the 4&3 win with a stunning chip from the fringe of the 15th green.

Rose and controversial wildcard pick Poulter were kept together in the afternoon despite surrendering a three-shot lead to Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell in the morning foursomes and they ended up being Europe's only bright spots on a disappointing day.

They produced a dominant display against debutants Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis, Poulter's lengthy birdie putt at 14 putting the Europeans 3 up.

Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter
Europe's players try to figure out where it all went wrong on Friday

And another birdie from Poulter at the 16th completed a 4&2 victory.

"We got off to a great start in the foursomes but couldn't continue it, however, we played awesome golf this afternoon," he said. "It's nice to go out there and get a point back."

Westwood and Garcia had somehow won a half in their fourballs clash with Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry despite being two down with two to play, and Westwood produced another late show with Hansen in the afternoon.

Westwood birdied three of the first five holes to put the duo 2 up but Weekley and the big-hitting Holmes got the crowd going with a spirited recovery, going 1 up at the 12th.

Hansen kept the European pair in the match by chipping in from the fringe of the 16th green and although Weekley and Holmes were still one ahead as they reached the final tee, they allowed Europe to sneak a half when they both found the water with their drives.

"You would expect to gain a half if you birdie your final three holes," said Westwood.


Match score: United States 5½-2½ Europe

Morning foursomes results:

Mickelson/Kim halved Harrington/Karlsson
Leonard/Mahan beat Stenson/Casey 4&2
Cink/Campbell beat Rose/Poulter 1 up
Perry/Furyk halved Westwood/Garcia

Afternoon fourballs results:

Mickelson/Kim beat Harrington/McDowell 1 up
Stricker/Curtis lost to Poulter/Rose 4&2
Leonard/Mahan beat Garcia/Jimenez 4&3
Holmes/Weekley halved Westwood/Hansen



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see also
Ryder Cup scores
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Faldo omits Garcia and Westwood
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day one as it happened
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day one photos
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
US hit back to snatch Ryder lead
19 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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