Dustin Johnson of team United States (Getty)
Europe vowed a Ryder Cup fightback after falling behind the United States 6-2 on Friday in a dismal opening showing, handing the Americans their largest first-day lead since 1975.
Holders Europe dropped the foursomes and four-ball matches each by a 3-1 margin, with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy suffering the first two-loss day in his Ryder Cup career.
“We can come back from 6-2,” vowed McIlroy, who was benched by Europe captain Padraig Harrington from Saturday’s opening foursomes matches.
Harrington said it would be a long slog back for Europe, winners in nine of the past 12 editions of the biennial team golf rivalry, if they hope to retain the trophy.
“You can’t just turn around and try to eat into a lead straightaway in one session,” Harrington said. “It would be lovely if it happened, but you can’t think like that. You’ve got to do it slowly, one step at a time.
“We’ve got 20 points to play for and we’ve got to prepare ourselves for at this stage a long battle all the way through.
“If we’re going to get this done, it’s going to be a very tight one.”
Norwegian rookie Viktor Hovland was confident after he and Tommy Fleetwood tied Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay in four-balls.
“I would have liked to maybe put some more points on the board,” Hovland said. “We could have gotten the win outright but hopefully we have a chance to set the record straight tomorrow.”
England’s Tyrrell Hatton birdied the 18th hole to tie him and Jon Rahm with Bryson DeChambeau and Scott Scheffler.
“You’re never out of the fight,” Hatton said. “That was obviously huge for the team there at the end. Hopefully that can kind of turn the momentum our way and … go into tomorrow with momentum on our side.”
Harrington says there is still all to play for with Europe needing 14 points to retain the Cup from eight pairs matches Saturday and 12 concluding singles matches on Sunday.
“No doubt it was a tough day. Clearly not what you wanted,” he said. “There’s obviously still 20 points to play for. It isn’t a good start, but there’s still a lot to play for.
“My team played well today. Just a few times, the momentum, the odd putt didn’t go in, and you need a bit of momentum.
“The last couple of matches there, when it was really, really tight, the boys came through. Those two halves at the very end were crucial for us.”
Maybe a little bit of momentum swing there, and we feel good about that. And coming out tomorrow, obviously we need a big day.”
A big part of that, Harrington said, will involve making more putts.
“Clearly if we have that couple of putts more, that creates that momentum,” he said.
“Plenty of gutsy performances. So I’m comfortable with that. It’s just a question of a few things going right for us. Getting the odd break.
“The US played very well. They did what they needed to do. We need to do that tomorrow.”
United States 6-2 Europe
Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia (EUR) bt Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth (USA) 3&1
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa (USA) bt Paul Casey and Victor Hovland (EUR) 3&2
Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger (USA) bt Lee Westwood/Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR) 2&1
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (USA) bt Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter (EUR) 5&3
Dustin Johnson/Xander Schauffele (USA) bt Paul Casey/Bernd Wiesberger (EUR) 2&1
Bryson DeChambeau/Scottie Scheffler (USA) and Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) tied
Tony Finau/Harris English (USA) bt Rory McIlroy/Shane Lowry (EUR) 4&3
Tommy Fleetwood/Viktor Hovland (EUR) and Justin Thomas/Patrick Cantlay tied