Ryder Cup 2014: Latest report on Day 1

The action is underway at Gleneagles

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The Independent Online

Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup got off to an encouraging start as they led in three of the four morning fourballs.

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Surprisingly only Ian Poulter, their leading scorer in the last three events, was not among the pace-setters as he and rookie Stephen Gallacher struggled early on.

There were no such problems for Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, sent out first against big-hitting Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. The Europe pair were two up after just four holes and could easily have doubled that advantage before they reached the turn.

Veteran Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer, who holed the putt which retained the trophy in Medinah two years ago, got off to an even better start as they were three up in four holes until Rickie Fowler's birdie pulled back a stroke.

The stellar group of world number one Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley did not live up to their star-billing with some ordinary golf all-round. However, Garcia produced one moment of magic to hole from a greenside bunker for a birdie at the fourth to edge ahead.

There were struggles for Poulter and Gallacher, captain Paul McGinley's surprise pairing, as they lost the opening hole to a par and went further behind when rookie Patrick Reed holed from distance from the back of the sixth green.

Players from both sides appeared to be struggling with the slow greens. The pace of them had been reduced in anticipation of strong winds which never materialised as Gleneagles basked in autumnal sunshine.

Reed and fellow debutant Jordan Spieth went three up at the seventh while Stenson and Rose did similarly when the Swede holed a seven-foot birdie at the par-five ninth.

Mickelson and Bradley pulled it back to all-square at the par-four seventh - which neither McIlroy nor Garcia played particularly well with the Spaniard eventually missing a three-footer for par.

All of a sudden the tide appeared to have turned as Jimmy Walker holed from a bunker at the long ninth for an eagle to get themselves back to one down.

Gallacher's miserable morning in front of an expectant home crowd continued when he missed from five feet to win the eighth.

At the top of the order Rose birdied from 25 feet to move four up with eight to play but things went from bad to worse for Poulter, who lost his opening match in 2004, 2008 and 2010, after he dumped his fairway wood approach to the par-five fifth in the middle of the pond.

His partner's third shot to the same green hit the flagstick and rebounded to 12 feet but Reed put his approach inside that distance and the American birdied while the Scot did not as Europe went four down at the turn.

Spieth holed from 15 feet to reduce Poulter's chances of first-morning heroics even more at five down with 10 to play.