Rory McIlroy hails Europe spirit after first day of Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter
Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter

Rory McIlroy insists persistence was the key to his - and Europe’s - Ryder Cup turnaround on the opening day at Le Golf National.

The four-time major winner, playing alongside rookie Thorbjorn Olesen, was the only player in the morning fourballs not to register a birdie as the hosts slipped to a 3-1 deficit.

But the turnaround was remarkable in the afternoon with Europe taking an early advantage in three of the fourball matches with McIlroy and new partner Ian Poulter finally getting going six holes in when the Holywood found a birdie.

They went on to beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 4&2 as Europe closed 5-3 up.

“I think a big thing for us this week is resilience, but also persistence,” said McIlroy.

“You have to persist. Persist, persist, persist, until it turns around for you and this morning wasn’t ideal but it was still a better start than the one we got off to at Hazeltine (losing the morning session 4-0).

“It was an incredible afternoon for Europe, one we haven’t really had since Gleneagles I guess.

“There was a couple of times where we threatened to have a great session in Hazeltine that didn’t really materialise so to see all the blue on the board in the afternoon is awesome.”

McIlroy revealed captain Thomas Bjorn made a late call to pair the two Ryder Cup veterans together for the foursomes but his decision paid off.

“The guys had a discussion earlier in the week and it was sort of a little bit of a last-minute thing that Poults and I would go together and it worked.”