Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell vowed to come out with all guns blazing after forgotten man Stewart Cink put a damper on their Ryder Cup party.
The Ulster duo battled horrific early weather to lead Cink and Matt Kuchar one up through four holes before a seven-hour rain delay killed their momentum.
Cink - forgotten by skipper Corey Pavin when he introduced his US side at the opening ceremony - then turned the match on its head after the restart by holing a series of massive putts in a five-birdie show to put the American pair two up with seven to play today.
Relieved that bad light stopped the US charge, McDowell said: “Stewart made a few bombs when it looked like we might get a stranglehold on the match.
“He made three or four really good putts out there the restart and that really set the tone for the rest of the afternoon unfortunately.
“But we are looking forward to getting back out there and repairing the damage.
“They were kind of keen to play on and the light was fading pretty quick so we didn’t want to let them continue with the momentum.
“We will get back to the hotel, get some sleep, regroup and come out with all guns blazing in the morning.”
McIlroy was hoping for a dream start to his Ryder Cup career and while he struggled at times on the course, he’ll never forget the moment he walked onto the first tee.
Recalling his first Ryder Cup shot, he said: “The first tee was a fantastic experience. It was the best atmosphere on a golf course that I have ever felt. I let Graeme hit first. I was nervous but once I got the first tee shot away I was fine.
“It was nice to experience it and I am sure we will experience it is bit more over the next few days. The most important thing now is to try and get back into the match and make a good start tomorrow morning.”
McIlroy missed the first fairway but McDowell put the Northern Ireland pair one up with a solid par before Cink made a long range putt at the third to square the match.
US Open champion McDowell won the fourth with a brilliant bunker shot to a foot to put Europe ahead again before rain stopped play.
But it was the Cink Show after the restart as the 2009 Open champion took his birdie tally to five compared to just one for the Ulster duo.
The man from rainy Georgia holed monster 60 foot birdie putt from just off the green to level the match at the fifth and then drained a 40 footer at the seventh to put the Americans one up.
McDowell showed why he’s the strong man in the partnership when he hit back with a winning birdie at the long ninth to level matters.
But Cink canned an 18 footer for birdie at the 10th to put the US ahead again and then doubled the lead to two holes with a six footer for another birdie at the par-five 11th as McIlroy missed from short range.
As for the new event format that sees all 12 members of both sides play six foursomes at some stage today followed by two foursomes and four fourballs, McDowell said: “It is going to be fast and furious. But it is important that we get out there and play golf tomorrow.
“The forecast is set good and we want to give the people what they came here to watch, which is golf and a chance to finish on Sunday evening.
“That is what this golf tournament deserves. So fingers crossed. It is going to be a long day but a good day with plenty of good golf to watch.
“We will save the partying for Sunday or Monday night, depending on what happens. We have good strength in depth in our team and having all 12 on the golf course tomorrow is pretty good for us. We are pretty excited about that change in format.”
Bracing himself for a test of stamina, McIlroy added: “It’s going to be tough going, especially with the ground so heavy. All 12 guys are going to play tomorrow so I think that stamina is going to be a factor.
“It is just a waiting game whenever the weather is like this. It wasn’t a great afternoon session for us and I am glad we are in the clubhouse now and we can get a fresh start in the morning.”
Cink’s putting masterclass helped the US turn a bad day around for the Americans.
Pavin said: “Stewart made some long ones and got it going. It is always great to make putts and that’s how you do well in the Ryder Cup. Hopefully it will spread to the others as well.”
As for Cink, he knows that it won’t be easy to kill off McIlroy and McDowell on a soft golf course.
He said: “Kuch put himself in positons that made it easy for me to give the putts a run. But the course is tough. The fact that it’s soft means that you can be more aggressive. So the plan is to just go out, take it one shot at at a time and take our chances.”