Colsaerts defies Woods as Europe stay in touch at Ryder Cup

Europe withstood an incredible onslaught by the USA in the opening afternoon fourballs as the home side took a 5-3 advantage after the opening day's play in the Ryder Cup at Medinah, near Chicago.

Only one of the greatest Ryder Cup debuts of all time by Nicolas Colsaerts saved Europe from a whitewash in the fourballs, the Belgian making eight birdies and an eagle to keep Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker at bay as Europe won the final match of the day on the 18th green.

"I've dreamt about this," Colsaerts said. "It's difficult to imagine you're going to do so well. But this is match play. Your focus gets very intense. I just did the best I could.

"It felt wonderful to be able to produce and deliver on such a big stage with a lot of eyes on you and this unbelievable atmosphere."

The visiting side was sent reeling by a barrage of birdies from their hosts as the fourballs got going, with captain Davis Love III's tactics of setting up the course to yield plenty of birdies appearing to suit the American players.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were the day's best performers as they followed their morning foursomes win with a 2&1 victory over Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

Big-hitting duo Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson were in irresistible form for the home side, blitzing the luckless Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson by birdieing seven of the first eight holes on their way to a 5&4 victory.

Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar also outplayed Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer, though Kaymer's terrible form left Rose on his own in trying to hang on, hole after hole, before succumbing 3&2.

Colsaerts was left similarly in the lurch by playing partner Lee Westwood, but the 29-year-old rookie holed an astonishing series of putts as well as making the day's only eagle - and even some of Woods's finest golf at the end of the round was not enough to prevent Europe finally taking a point from the fourballs. It was Woods's second defeat of the day.

"I didn't really have a lot to do," Westwood said. "He brought me in to read a putt on 15 and I panicked.

"I wondered why he was even asking me because everything he looked at went in. I mean, why ruin it now? It was an amazing, amazing round of golf."

Woods was equally in awe of Colsaerts's performance on the greens, and pleased with his own afternoon round after his shocking morning at the tee.

"Nicolas probably had one of the greatest putting rounds I've ever seen," he said.

"I didn't play very good this morning at all. I was hitting it awful and not doing anything well.

"But I hit it good this afternoon. I drove it great this afternoon and was in position, but we ran into a guy who just made absolutely everything."

The former world number one will miss a Ryder Cup session for the first time in his career after Love benched him for Saturday morning's foursomes. Stricker will also miss out.

"I think Tiger needs a rest, Steve needs a rest," Love said after Saturday's pairings were announced.

"We just don't want guys to be worn out. We need Tiger and Steve in the afternoon (for Saturday's fourball matches). We need Tiger and Steve on Sunday (for the singles).

"We just felt like we didn't want anybody to have to play five matches on this golf course. It's a big, long golf course. It's tough."

The Americans will be heartened after dominating almost the entire day, but equally they will be left wondering how they have not put more daylight between themselves and their opponents heading into Saturday's second day of three.