RYDER CUP: Europe's dream team put the test as action tees off

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and Open champion Henrik Stenson put their unbeaten record on the line as the 41st Ryder Cup got under way at Hazeltine on Friday.

After winning all three of their matches together at Gleneagles two years ago, it was no surprise that Rose and Stenson were sent out first for the second Ryder Cup in succession.

Europe's Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan during day one of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine

Europe's Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan during day one of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine

And the identity of their opponents was not a shock either, two-time major winner Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed having also gone unbeaten on their debuts in Scotland with two and a half points from three matches.

After a video tribute to the late Arnold Palmer briefly interrupted the thumping rock music and partisan chants from the packed grandstands, Rose and Reed somehow held their nerve to find the opening fairway in misty conditions.

But after good approaches from their playing partners, both men were unable to convert birdie attempts from around 12 feet to keep the opening match all square.

World number three Rory McIlroy and rookie Andy Sullivan were up against Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in match two, with Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer facing Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson.

However, there was no place in the final match for Masters champion Danny Willett, with fellow rookie Thomas Pieters preferred to partner veteran Lee Westwood - in his 10th consecutive appearance - against Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

Willett was caught up in a storm following a column written by his brother Peter which described American fans as a "braying mob of imbeciles" - among other derogatory things - and his form appeared to suffer.

In his final practice round on Thursday the world number 10 hit one spectator on the head at the second hole and produced a number of other wayward shots which prompted several on-course discussions between captain Darren Clarke and his vice-captains.