Americans surge into Ryder lead

A potential 3-1 European lead quickly turned into a 2.5-1.5 lead for the Americans after a late fightback left Tom Watson smiling.

Europe seemed well in control of the opening morning fourballs at Gleneagles as the final hour’s action approached, but saw their advantage evaporate over the closing holes of the last two matches.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed got the Americans off to a flyer with a thumping 5&4 victory over Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter, but the Europeans were able to hit straight back as Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson by the same margin.

That left the scored tied at 1-1, but it soon appeared as if Paul McGinley’s men would finish the morning well on top.

Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn had led Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker throughout their foursomes contest, and still found themselves 2-up as they headed to the 17th.

But Walker in particular came to the fore, outplaying his partner and his opponents as the match to ensure the match ended all square.

Kaymer and Bjorn would have been left bitterly disappointed at surrendering the last two holes, but a similar story was about to unfold in the morning’s final match, which saw Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia taking on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.

The match had swung both ways but seemed to be going to Europe as Garcia and McIlroy turned a 2-down deficit into a 1-up lead at the 16th.

But Bradley was on hand to deliver a pinpoint tee shot at the short 17th for an eventual birdie to get it back to all square, and a birdie from Mickelson at the 18th then proved enough to see them win the hole and snatch the 1-up victory.

First blood to the Americans, then, as the afternoon fourballs got underway.

Draw and tee-off times for the afternoon foursomes on the first day of the 40th Ryder Cup, Europe v United States, at Gleneagles, Scotland, on Friday, September 26:

(Europe names first, times are BST)

1315 Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood v Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar
1330 Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson v Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson
1345 Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia v Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler
1400 Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson v Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley