By Brian Keogh
Great Britain and Ireland staged a late singles comeback as Rory McIlroy failed to spark on the opening day of the Walker Cup at Royal County Down.
The United States led 6-3 with three matches singles matches remaining but Nigel Edwards, Jamie Moul and David Horsey won on the 18th to level it at 6-6 going into the final day.
But while it was a positive day for the home side, it was a disappointing one for Holywood ace McIlroy as he earned just half a point from his two matches.
The 18-year-old’s only success came in the foursomes alongside Clandeboye’s Jonny Caldwell with the Irish pair coming back from two down with three to play to halve with Colt Knost and Dustin Johnson.
Great Britain and Ireland looked certain to lead 2 /1 to 1 1/2 after the foursomes but American pair of Webb Simpson and Jonathan Moore finished birdie-eagle to snatch a half with England’s Jamie Moul and Daniel Willett.
McIlroy led off for the home side in the afternoon singles but played poorly and lost by one hole to Billy Horschel in dramatic circumstances.
Two down for most of the afternoon, McIlroy fought back to square the match on the 16th but then three-putted the 18th from 20 feet for a bogey six.
“I’m obviously very disappointed,” McIlroy said. “It was a scrappy match and I fought hard to get back into it. To not get anything out of the match after that is not good for me, or the team. I’m just very disappointed.”
GB&I skipper Colin Dalgleish was delighted that his side managed to come back from the dead late in the day.
He said: “It looked though it was getting away from us in the afternoon but it was an amazing fightback at the end. The boys showed they can perform in tough situations and we will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow.”
US skipper Buddy Marucci predicted another tight finish as his side bids to retain the trophy today.
He said: “We have more of the same in store. These matches have come down to the last hole and last groups over the last 15 years or so and I think we will see more of that tomorrow.”