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Rory McIlroy's Ryder Cup day

By Peter Hutcheon

It took just two holes out of the 36 he played to turn Rory McIlroy's day around.

Two down with two to play in the afternoon foursomes, he finally lived up to his billing as the European player to beat by holing a fabulous birdie putt on the 17th to take the match with Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker down the last.

True, he needed a fortunate kick off the branches of the tree he hit with his drive at the 18th, but partner Sergio Garcia took full advantage with his approach and when Fowler failed to hole a birdie putt, the unlikely half was secured.

Half a point, though, was not quite what McIlroy had in mind from the two available to him yesterday and he will be the first to admit, that he was far from his imperious best.

He did thump some tremendous tee-shots with his much-discussed new driver, but was much more wayward than he would've wanted with what is usually his biggest weapon.

There's no doubting the chemistry between McIlroy and Garcia and that, at times, made up for some of the frankly poor golf they produced both in the afternoon and against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the morning fourballs.

McIlroy began the day with a great birdie putt on the first to halve that hole, but in truth the golf from both much-vaunted pairs was scrappy from that point on.

Still, that can make for some scintillating Ryder Cup play and so it proved as that match headed into the final stretch with the Europeans one up with three to play.

An eagle from Bradley on the 16th brought them level and on the 18th McIlroy hit an awful third from 120 yards into the bunker to lose the hole – and the match – to Mickelson's birdie four.

The world No.1 has a lot of work to do to turn around his overall Ryder Cup record. Yesterday took that to 11 played, just four won and a total of five and a half points.

Statistics, though, don't always tell the whole story and memories of the 17th and 18th yesterday when all seemed lost, will stand him in good stead for the weekend.

Belfast Telegraph


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