A victory on the 18th green for Europe’s Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke over Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson means that they just hold the edge over the Americans after the first fourball sessions on day one of the Ryder Cup.

Westwood and Clarke’s one hole victory gives the Europeans a 2.5 to 1.5 lead, after Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia defeated David Toms and Brett Wetterich 3&2 and Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson secured a half against JJ Henry and Stewart Cink.

The USA had initially gone 1-0 up following Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk’s defeat of Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington by one hole in the day’s first match. The Europeans had taken an early lead in that match before a run of birdies by Woods gave him and Furyk a three hole lead on the 14th. Montgomerie and Harrington fought back bravely to take the match to the final hole but both were let down by their putters throughout the match and this ultimately proved costly.

Olazabal and Garcia were always in control of their match and won comfortably in the end with Garcia in particular playing some marvellous shots. Casey and Karlsson found themselves three up at the turn but were pegged back by Cink and Henry, who enjoyed a fine Ryder Cup debut.

The big story of the day, however, was that of Darren Clarke, who has only recently returned to competitive golf after the death of his wife. The ovation the Ulsterman received on the first tee from the Irish crowd was genuinely moving and he did not disappoint the fans by smashing his drive straight down the middle and making birdie at the first. Aided by his trusted partner and close friend Westwood and some erratic shots from Mickelson, Clarke played very solidly and helped do enough to secure the win in the final fourball match and give Europe a slight advantage at this very early stage.

MORNING FOURBALL RESULTS

EUROPE 2.5 – 1.5 USA

T Woods & J Furyk (USA) beat C Montgomerie and P Harrington (Eur) 1 hole

P Casey & R Karlsson (Eur) halved with S Cink and JJ Henry (USA)

S Garcia & JM Olazabal (Eur) beat D Toms & B Wetterich (USA) 3&2

D Clarke & L Westwood (Eur) beat P Mickelson & C DiMarco (USA) 1 hole