Europe turn screws on USA on Ryder Cup Day 2
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Europe turn screws on USA on Ryder Cup Day 2

A huge crowd of home fans enjoys Europe's early charge on Saturday at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, site of the 2023 Ryder Cup. (Photo: AFP)
A huge crowd of home fans enjoys Europe's early charge on Saturday at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, site of the 2023 Ryder Cup. (Photo: AFP)

ROME - Europe got off to another fast start on the second day of the Ryder Cup on Saturday, piling the pressure on the United States in the morning foursomes after racking up a record-equalling overnight lead.

Captain Luke Donald said on Friday he wants a "historic week" from Europe, and his team looked poised to extend their 6.5-1.5 advantage earned on an extraordinary first day at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Europe are gunning to reclaim the Ryder Cup lost in a record 19-9 thrashing two years ago at the hands of the USA, who are trying to win on this side of the Atlantic for the first time in 1993.

European captain Donald has opted to switch the usual schedule and open with the alternate shot foursomes instead of fourballs and his team have delivered in style.

The Americans didn't win a single match in a day for the first time and the board was dominated by blue early on Saturday with the first pairing of Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood leading Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas through six holes.

A large and loud crowd have delighted in the performance of the European team, and the players have responded to that passion by putting on a golf clinic that will leave the USA's chances hanging by a thread if they don't turn the tide by lunchtime.

As glorious sunshine slowly enveloped the course, fans unfurled a large banner depicting Spanish Ryder Cup icon Seve Ballesteros, bringing vice-captain Jose Maria Olazabal to the verge of tears at the Italian message "forever in our hearts".

Zach Johnson's USA didn't hit the first fairway until Patrick Cantlay teed off in the final match of the morning and a series of poor shots and missed putts left them down in three of the four contests.

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg moved an incredible five up after six holes on Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, the only player in the field from the Saudi Arabia-backed rebel LIV Golf circuit.

Europe stave off US rally

On Friday the US briefly threatened a fightback in afternoon fourballs, with even a 5-3 deficit looking likely, but they could not close it out.

Thomas and Spieth played out a thrilling tie with Hatton and Hovland in Friday's fourballs, who holed his 20-foot birdie putt on the final green.

McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick dismantled Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa 5 and 3 in the fourth fourballs match to briefly put Europe 5.5-0.5 ahead.

The USA were still in control of the other two matches, but Jon Rahm chipped in for eagle on the short par-four 16th before draining a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th to steal half a point with Nicolai Hojgaard against Scheffler and Koepka.

Europe looked even less likely to avoid defeat in the final match on the course with Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre 2-down to Max Homa and Wyndham Clark with two to play.

But a Rose par on the penultimate hole took the match down 18 and the oldest player in this year's event showed all his experience by calmly rolling home an eight-foot birdie putt with all of his teammates watching on.

"That's for the boys, because everyone's in it together," said the 43-year-old.

Europe race out of blocks 

Donald's men made a rapid start and never gave the Americans a sniff as they cruised to victory in all four matches for the first time in a morning session.

The US never led in a single foursomes contest as Rahm and Hatton led the way with their 4 and 3 triumph over Scheffler and Sam Burns in the opening clash.

McIlroy hit a brilliant tee shot on the par-three 17th within two feet to close out a tense 2 and 1 win with Fleetwood in the bottom match against Schauffele and Cantlay.

Hovland and Aberg, who is the first golfer to be selected for a Ryder Cup without playing in a major championship, cruised to another 4 and 3 victory against Homa and Harman.

Lowry and Straka rode the wave with a 2 and 1 success over Morikawa and Rickie Fowler.

McIlroy and Fleetwood inflicted Schauffele and Cantlay's first foursomes defeat in international competition after five previous successive wins.

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