Published Saturday, 29 September 2012
Graeme McDowell as Rory McIlroy drops to his knees after his missed birdie putt (© Getty)
McIlroy and Graeme McDowell held their nerve after a late fightback by Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker to score a point for Europe by winning by one hole in the morning foursomes.
But the Northern Irish pair trailed throughout to Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley before going down 2&1 to the Americans in the afternoon session.
McIlroy hit a fine tee shot at the 17th as he pushed to secure a tie but Mickelson landed an even better one to around three feet of the flag and defeat was conceded.
McIlroy said: "They got off to a very fast start, and at the end of the day we just gave ourselves a little bit too much to do. We started a little sluggishly.
"Obviously it was just a high to end this morning and then to try to get ourselves back for the afternoon, we just didn't start as well as we would have liked.
"We were trying to claw our way back, and we played some good stuff on the way in, but Keegan and Phil were just too strong this afternoon."
The Ryder Cup star on day one was rookie Nicolas Colsaerts who saved the holders from being whitewashed.
The Belgian had an incredible eight birdies and an eagle in the final fourball game of the day in Chicago.
Partner Lee Westwood, winning his eighth cap, did not contribute a single birdie or eagle to the cause, but together they were able to celebrate a win going into the weekend.
"It was a lot of fun," Colsaerts said. "I've never had so much fun and I want to have more.
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were the pair beaten - meaning Woods lost his first two games and will sit out a session for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, after being benched by US captain Davis Love.
Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal has told his team to step up a gear to change the momentum.
Olazabal said: "I'm going to make it clear to the boys that they need to step it up. They need to play better golf, simple as that.
"There are no secrets about this game. You have to make more birdies than your opponent and if you don't do that, you're going to struggle. We do have to change the momentum."
On Saturday Olazabal is sending out Justin Rose and Ian Poulter first against Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson.
Luke Donald will return alongside Lee Westwood to face Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, twice winners on Friday, before Colsaerts partners Sergio Garcia against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
The foursomes will be completed as Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell take on Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker in a repeat of the competition's first match.