Exhale, Europe. Your big dogs escaped.
Rory McIlroy, the world No. 1, and Graeme McDowell, a Ryder Cup pit bull, were widely expected to take the opening match of the Ryder Cup in decisive fashion. It didn't quite work out that way.
This match marked the first rules controversy of the Ryder Cup. On the second hole, McDowell had sought relief from a sprinkler head, but American Jim Furyk (playing with Brandt Snedeker) disagreed. A rules official ultimately sided with the Americans, denying McDowell the needed relief. The Americans would go on to win the hole.
The USA took the second hole, but the Europeans went on a run, taking five of eight holes to go 3-up by the 11th. But then we started to see the pressure of the Ryder Cup, and the danger of a big lead ... The Americans took three of four holes, and the teams walked to the 18th all square.
The final hole proved decisive, as Snedeker drove his tee shot halfway to Joliet. Furyk was unable to recover significantly, and the team bogeyed the hole. McDowell was able to can his par putt and save Europe from a humiliating halve or lost point. Bottom line: Snedeker and Furyk can take pride in their comeback, but nobody should take this European pairing for granted.
Current score: USA 1, Europe 1.
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