Ryder Cup 2016: McIlroy eagle caps excellent European fightback to end day one 3-5 down

Europe won Friday's Fourball session 3-1 to move to within two points of the USA at the end of the opening day of the 2016 Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup 2016: McIlroy eagle caps excellent European fightback to end day one 3-5 down
Rory McIlroy celebrates his match-winning eagle on the 16th (image via: Streeter Lecka / Staff / Getty Images)

Team Europe recovered from a horrendous morning session to end day one of the 2016 Ryder Cup trailing their American hosts 5-3.

Having suffered a 4-0 ‘red-wash’ in the morning’s foursomes, Darren Clarke’s team fought back to win 3-1 in the afternoon’s fourball session, with Ryder Cup rookies Thomas Pieters and Rafael Cabrera-Bello among those impressing for the Europeans.

A thrilling opening day at the Hazeltine National course in Minnesota has set it up perfectly for Saturday’s play, where the USA will hope to push on with the lead they have accumulated.

Rose and Stenson lead Europeans with revenge win in top game

In a repeat of the opening matchup for the morning foursomes, Europe's Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose produced an excellent performance to defeat Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth 5&4.

After Reed birdied the first to give America an early lead, Stenson soon got into his grove. Posting birdies on holes four, seven and eight, the Swede was too good for the American pair to give Europe a two-hole lead at the turn. 

The match was over midway through the back-nine, after the European duo claimed victories on holes 12, 13 and 14 to win 5&4, posting nine birdies and zero bogeys from the 14 holes played as Clarke's number one pairing produced the goods. 

Snedeker and Koepka in imperious form to secure fifth American point

Not soon after handshakes took place in the opening game, America's Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka put the finishing touches to their win over Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett

In his first Ryder Cup match, Koepka impressed for the home team, playing a big role in America's dominance of this matchup with the best ball on holes three and eight. 

It was the more senior figure of Snedeker who led from the front though, with the Tennesseean showing excellent form on the greens to help secure the 5&4 win.

Europe hold off late charge to secure crucial 3-1 session victory

With plenty of blue lining the leaderboard, Europe looked certain to win the afternoon session 3-1, before a late surge from America threatened to derail the comeback. 

The Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello won Europe's 2nd point (image source: Ross Kinnaird / Staff / Getty Images)
The Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello won Europe's 2nd point (image source: Ross Kinnaird / Staff / Getty Images)

Match two saw Europe leading by four holes at halfway with the Spanish pairing of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia forming a strong partnership despite their differing levels of Ryder Cup experience. They remained four up with five to play before Ryan Moore hit a hot-streak on the greens. Birdies on 14 and 15 from Davis Love III's final pick threatened to unsettle the Spaniards before Garcia's birdie on 16 closed out the 3&2 win. 

In the final game, Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters were in scintilating form over the front-nine, birdying six holes on their way to a four-shot lead. 

One of American's strongest pairings; Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, were never going to be beaten easily though and won holes 11, 14 and 15 to pile the pressure on their opponents. 

It was then down to Europe's leader McIlroy to end the day with a bang, making a remarkable eagle on the par-five 16 to claim the mightily-important 3&2 win and handing the Europeans all of the momentum going into Saturday.