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Donald gets Europe off to winning start


Luke Donald celebrates beating USA's Bubba Watson. (AP)

Luke Donald celebrates beating USA's Bubba Watson. (AP)

Luke Donald celebrates beating USA's Bubba Watson. (AP)

Luke Donald struck the first blow as Europe's attempt to equal the biggest ever last-day comeback in Ryder Cup history got off to a dramatic start - both on and off the course.

Needing to recover from 10-6 down to retain the trophy at Medinah, Jose Maria Olazabal's side got the start they wanted when Donald beat Bubba Watson 2&1 in the opening singles.

But that was almost overshadowed by the chaotic arrival of world number one Rory McIlroy, who turned up in an unmarked police car at 11:15am, just 10 minutes before his match with Keegan Bradley was due to start.

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).

Former captain Colin Montgomerie, whose side had the advantage of staying on site for their win at Celtic Manor in 2010, said: "That is absolutely ridiculous at this level. It's quite unbelievable for the world number one golfer. How this happened I do not know.

"Where is the captain? Where are the vice-captains? Where is his caddie?"

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said: "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."

Donald's win could have been even more emphatic with the former world number one missing from five feet for an eagle to win 6&4. Watson then won his first hole of the match on the 15th and chipped in for birdie on the 16th for good measure, but Donald closed it out with a superb bunker shot on the 17th.

However, of the remaining 11 matches, Europe were only ahead in two with Paul Lawrie three up on Brandt Snedeker after 11 and Francesco Molinari one ahead of Tiger Woods in the final game.

Matches two, three and four featuring Ian Poulter, McIlroy and Justin Rose against Webb Simpson, Bradley and Phil Mickelson respectively were all square and vital for Europe's cause.