McIlroy and McDowell live up to billing

Ulstermen shine in Vivendi opener to offer promise of future Ryder Cup partnership

Did European golf witness the birth of a Ryder Cup player here yesterday, even that of a great Ryder Cup partnership? It was easy to watch a young Ulsterman star on the opening day of the Vivendi Trophy and become carried away about the future. But then, that has always been the case with Rory McIlroy.

Graeme McDowell's contribution to the 4&3 fourball victory over Alvaro Quiros and Soren Kjeldsen should not and was not being underestimated. McDowell actually made more birdies than his fellow countryman as they gave Great Britain and Ireland the impetus to take a 3-2 first-day lead over Continental Europe. Yet even he nodded towards the outrageous talent of McIlroy, the 20-year-old making his professional team debut.

"I would certainly like this to be a Ryder Cup pairing," said McDowell. "As far as I'm concerned there would be nothing better than to play with this man next to me."

McIlroy hailed a hearty "and vice versa..." and there was a sense of something special and very inevitable having just been put on display. "I do feel we're at the start of a Ryder Cup partnership for years to come," said Paul McGinley, their captain. "The potential for the pairing is obviously there. But there's a long way to go – they're no Ollie and Seve, yet. Though they were pretty impressive today."

Yet no matter how comfortable the victory turns out there is always a key moment. Yesterday, McDowell saw it as occurring on the par-three third when they appeared destined to be pegged back to all square with McIlroy wedged under the back-lip of a greenside bunker and their opponents both in close. Seve Ballesteros, himself, would not have fancied the up and down. But McIlroy flipped it up, ran it past the flag and cannoned into Kjeldsen's ball. Instead of being 20 feet away, he was just five and was able to force the half.

"I couldn't believe Soren didn't mark it – I thanked him," said McIlroy. Surely he didn't aim for the ball? McIlroy flashed his eyes and laughed. He had been doing so all day. "It was the most fun I've had on a golf course in a while," said McIlroy.

That was a particularly pertinent quote from the lad who just a few months ago dared to write off the Ryder Cup as "an exhibition". The team-room camaraderie has clearly inspired him and Europe will surely one day praise McGinley for persuading him to play. Said McGinley: "This was just what I expected of them. I told them they were going to lead our charge towards the trophy."

His exuberance was understandable, even though the Continentals fought back in the last two matches. Not only did McGinley's top boys perform, but if anything his second group was even better. Chris Wood, just 18 months McIlroy's senior, and Anthony Wall were an incredible nine-under through the 13 holes they needed to hammer Thomas Bjorn's crack Swedish pairing of Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson 6&5.

"I wanted Stenson," revealed Wood, the Bristolian who since finishing fifth as an amateur in last year's Open has made such an impression on the pro circuit. "Henrik was on the range at the start of the week, chucking balls at me and giving me a bit of stick. Yeah, it was good to get one over on him."

6

Miguel Angel Jimenez is the only player to feature in all six stagings of the Vivendi Trophy.

Vivendi Trophy: Today's schedule

Draw and tee-off times (Continental Europe names first, Britain and Ireland lead 3-2 overnight, all times BST):

10.35 Henrik Stenson & Alvaro Quiros v Simon Dyson & Oliver Wilson

10.50 Peter Hanson & Soren Hansen v Nick Dougherty & Ross Fisher

11.05 Anders Hansen & Francesco Molinari v Graeme McDowell & Rory McIlroy

11.20 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano & Robert Karlsson v Robert Rock & Steve Webster

11.35 Miguel Angel Jimenez & Soren Kjeldsen v Anthony Wall & Chris Wood.

News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup