Lee Westwood led from the front in trademark fashion as Europe set off on their quest to regain the Ryder Cup at a mist-shrouded Celtic Manor.
Even before Westwood hit Europe’s first Monday morning shot in Ryder Cup history, he had immediate cause for celebration.
Westwood, Europe’s talisman against the United States, was first out in the delayed 12-match singles schedule following a competition scarred by heavy rain and 13 hours of delays.
And he did so in the knowledge he had climbed to world number two for the first time. He will end Tiger Woods’ five-year reign at the top if he finishes first or second at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next weekend.
Europe began the day needing five points for victory, and pathfinder Westwood once again found early rhythm as he went one up on Steve Stricker through five holes.
Behind him, Ryder Cup rookie Rory McIlroy made a blistering start against former Open champion Stewart Cink, going two up after two holes before a dogged Cink clawed it back to all square as they set off down the fifth.
Europe’s Luke Donald, facing the man who beat him to win £7 million in last weekend’s FedEx Cup, stood one up against Jim Furyk after three, and it was all square between Ian Poulter and Matt Kuchar.
America initially led in just one of the first five matches, courtesy of Dustin Johnson’s first hole victory over US PGA champion Martin Kaymer.
German Ryder Cup rookie Kaymer made a hash of his tee shot, and then struggled to get out of a green-side bunker as Johnson quietly went about his business.
After the early flurries, and with the sun beginning to pierce mist on the early holes, Europe had made a solid start, with captain Colin Montgomerie having set out his stall through fielding players ranked among the world’s top 10 in the first four matches.
Score: Europe 9.5 USA 6.5
Singles matches scores for the 38th Ryder Cup, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales
(Europe names first, all times Irish Time)
Lee Westwood 1 up on Steve Stricker - after 7 holes
Rory McIlroy all square with Stewart Cink - 5
Luke Donald 2 up on Jim Furyk - 5
Martin Kaymer 2 down against Dustin Johnson - 3
Ian Poulter all square with Matt Kuchar - 2
Ross Fisher 1 up on Jeff Overton - 1
Miguel Angel Jimenez 1 up on Bubba Watson - 1
Match 8: 10.29 Francesco Molinari v Tiger Woods
Match 9: 10.41 Edoardo Molinari v Rickie Fowler
Match 10: 10.53 Peter Hanson v Phil Mickelson
Match 11: 11.05 Padraig Harrington v Zach Johnson
Match 12: 11.17 Graeme McDowell v Hunter Mahan