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Europe takes early lead vs US at Ryder Cup

MEDINAH, Ill. — The Americans are off to a rocky start at the Ryder Cup.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are doing exactly what European captain Jose Maria Olazabal hoped when he sent his strongest pair off first in foursomes Friday morning. They closed the front nine with birdies on five of the last six holes, and were 1-up on Jim Furyk and rookie Brandt Snedeker at the turn.

McIlroy, the world No. 1, has been dazzling since the par-3 No. 2, when his tee shot landed a few inches in front of a sprinkler head. McDowell was refused relief and a bogey gave the Americans the hole. Two holes later, McIlroy chipped in from behind the green to square the match, screaming and throwing a roundhouse punch when the ball went in the cup.

Europe has been in control of the other three matches, getting help from awful tee shots by Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, the U.S. anchors. Stricker put his tee shot on No. 2 in the water, and Woods has been deep in the gallery on two other holes.