Padraig Harrington insisted Ireland could still repeat their 1997 World Cup triumph at Kiawah Island.
Harrington and team-mate Paul McGinley slumped to a two-over-par 74 in the opening fourballs to lie seven shots off the lead with today’s more difficult foursomes to come.
But with further blustery winds forecast, anything is possible on a tough course playing as difficult as it did during the 1991 Ryder Cup.
Harrington, who still rates Ireland’s win here six years ago as the highlight of his career, said: “It was a tough day on Thursday but we both didn’t play well. I was out of sorts with my swing and it was a tough day not to be on form.
“We got a few bad breaks but I can’t say we deserved a hell of a lot better. But we are not out of it, we did fairly well to hang in there.”
Paul Casey and Justin Rose were equally not out of the running despite a 73 which left them six off the pace set by the German team of Alex Cejka and Marcel Siem.
The English duo were three under par after 12 holes before dropping four shots in the closing stretch, but Rose said: “Foursomes is where it’s at. That’s where you’ll find out who the best teams are.”
Perhaps the only person hoping for more of the same from the weather was Ian Woosnam, who stepped into the Wales team as a late replacement for Phil Price and contributed five birdies in his team’s 68.
This is the 45-year-old’s 17th World Cup; he made his debut in 1980 in Colombia and won both the individual and team title – with David Llewellyn – in 1987 in Hawaii, beating Sandy Lyle and Sam Torrance in a play-off.
He also won the individual title in 1991 in Rome and has played in all of the major team events at Kiawah Island; competing in the Ryder Cup in 1991, the 1997 World Cup and the 2001 Warburg Cup.
“When we played the Ryder Cup here, when you missed the greens there was more sand off the side,” said Woosnam, partnering Bradley Dredge for the second year running. “Over the years they’ve improved the course a lot.
“They’ve put in a lot more bunkers and changed the 18th hole and when the wind comes up it’s very, very demanding. Some of the shots you want to play you can’t play.
“If you played anywhere else you could get around, but this course is so demanding and if you miss the greens, to try and get it up and down is very difficult. That is what it’s supposed to be like. It suits me if it stays like this.
“Playing foursomes in this kind of weather, two or three over par is not that bad a score.”
Wales were in second place on four under with France’s Thomas Levet and Raphael Jacquelin a shot behind in third.
Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth and Paul Lawrie were in a share of seventh place on one under alongside pre-tournament favourites Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard.