Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Europe make good start

Rory McIlroy, pictured, showed few nerves to win the fourth hole against Keegan Bradley (AP)
Rory McIlroy, pictured, showed few nerves to win the fourth hole against Keegan Bradley (AP)

Europe's attempts to equal the biggest ever last-day comeback in Ryder Cup history got off to a chaotic start when Rory McIlroy bizarrely arrived at Medinah just 10 minutes before the start of his singles match.

McIlroy was due to face American Keegan Bradley in the third of the 12 singles contests at 11:25am local time, but only arrived in the car park in an unmarked police car at 11:15am.

That left the world number one just a few minutes to warm up on the putting green near the first tee before facing rookie Bradley, who had won all three of his matches this week alongside Phil Mickelson to help the United States into a 10-6 lead.

McIlroy had seemingly been confused by time zones, with television coverage listing his start time at 12:25 Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is 11:25 Central Time (CT). European captain Jose Maria Olazabal had been looking for a fast start by his team, but ended up with a fast heart-rate to worry about when he discovered McIlroy's absence.

"It was racing quicker than expected," Olazabal told the Golf Channel. "We did not have that in mind. All of a sudden we realised Rory was not here and started to look for him. Finally we got hold of him and he came in with a police escort with 10 or 11 minutes to go."

There was also plenty of drama on the course already, with Luke Donald and Bubba Watson both making birdie on the first before Donald went two ahead with a par on the second and a birdie on the fourth.

Ian Poulter, Europe's undoubted star this week with three wins out of three, then chipped in for a birdie on the first in his match with Webb Simpson, only for the US Open champion to follow him in from 15ft for a half.

Donald remained two up at the turn and Poulter was back to all square when Simpson ran up a bogey six on the seventh and promptly shanked his tee shot on the par-three eighth.

McIlroy chipped in for birdie on the sixth to move two up on Bradley, while Paul Lawrie - who had lost both his previous matches - was two up on Brandt Snedeker thanks to chipping in for birdie on the fourth and holing from eight feet for eagle on the next.

The biggest lead on the course so far belonged to Zach Johnson, who was three up after four holes on a struggling Graeme McDowell, while five matches were all square, including that between Rose and Mickelson after the American won the fourth and fifth.

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