The man who secured the winning point in the last Ryder Cup today clearly felt the pressure of hitting the first shot in defence of the trophy at Medinah.
Graeme McDowell’s victory over Hunter Mahan sealed Europe’s one-point win at Celtic Manor, where the former US Open champion had also claimed one and a half points from three matches with Rory McIlroy.
It was no therefore no surprise to see the Northern Irish duo together again in the first foursomes match on Friday morning, with McDowell given the honour of hitting the opening shot of their match with Jim Furyk and rookie Brandt Snedeker.
In front of a packed grandstand which had been full in darkness an hour before play began, McDowell pulled his drive well left of the fairway and left McIlroy a tricky shot to the green partially obstructed by trees.
However, the world number one was able to hit a high approach which found the fringe and saw McDowell redeem himself with an excellent chip to within inches of the hole to save par, with Furyk missing a birdie putt from 25ft following Snedeker’s approach.
It did not take long for the first potential flashpoint as Furyk questioned whether McDowell was entitled to a free drop away from a sprinkler head on the fringe of the second green.
After the referee walking with the match turned down Europe’s request, a second opinion was called for but the initial decision was eventually upheld.
McDowell proceeded to hit a poor chip around six feet past the hole and when McIlroy missed, Snedeker holed out for par to give the American pair the lead.