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Ryder Cup: U.S. sweep foursomes before Europe battle back

The United States took early control at the Ryder Cup with a 4-0 victory in the opening foursomes. Defending champions Europe staged a stirring fightback in the four-ball matches to leave the score at 5-3 overnight.

A fired-up Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed set the tone as the U.S. took early control with a 4-0 sweep of the opening foursomes matches.

It was the first whitewash by the U.S. in an opening session since 1975 at Laurel Valley and gave the hosts a perfect start in their quest to end a run of eight defeats in the past 10 editions.

"It's a good start," U.S. captain Davis Love III told reporters after a chilly, overcast morning at Hazeltine gave way to bright afternoon sunshine.

Tide turns

However, the tide soon began to turn as Europe fought back in impressive style in the four-ball matches. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson secured the continent's first point with a 5&4 drubbing of Spieth and Reed.

Europe rapped up victory in another two, with the U.S. comfortably winning the other, leaving the Americans with a 5-3 advantage heading into Saturday.

"The guys were disappointed with the way they played this morning and the way they performed, but they showed tremendous bravery and heart and desire to go out and play the way they have done this afternoon," said Europe captain Darren Clarke.

Earlier, thunderous roars of "USA, USA, USA" echoed across the ultra-long Hazeltine National layout as twice major winner Spieth and fellow young gun Reed beat European heavyweights Rose and Stenson 3&2 in the top match to secure the first point.

Soon after, U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar completed a 5&4 demolition of an out-of-sorts Lee Westwood of England and Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters in the anchor match with massive galleries cheering them all the way.

Surprising point

PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson came from one down after 11 holes to beat Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Germany's Martin Kaymer 4&2 before Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler delivered the most surprising point of the morning for the Americans.

Fan favourites Mickelson and Fowler were wayward off the tee for most of the session and trailed Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Englishman Andy Sullivan by two after 14 holes before scraping through a fluctuating contest to win one-up.

In the four-balls, Garcia and compatriot Rafa Cabrera-Bello held off late resistance from JB Holmes and Ryan Moore to win 3&2 before McIlroy and Pieters beat Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 3&2.

McIlroy ended the match in style after the Americans had come from four down after 10 holes to trail by just two, sinking a 20-foot eagle putt at the par-five 16th. He then twice bowed mockingly to the crowd before letting out a thunderous bellow.

USA Ryder Cup - Golf (Reuters/USA Today Sports/M. Madrid)

A pumped-up McIlroy clinched victory with a superb eagle

"It's pretty hostile out there, I must say," McIlroy said of the raucous Hazeltine galleries. "Obviously you don't want to let that get to you, but you want to let them know when you hole a putt how much it means to you."

The sole success for the U.S. in the afternoon came from putting maestro Brandt Snedeker and rookie Brooks Koepka, who crushed Kaymer and Masters champion Danny Willett of England 5&4.

The U.S. have lost the Ryder Cup at home just four times since the matches began in 1927, and are bidding to end a run of three successive defeats in the competition.

idr/(Reuters)