Graeme McDowell hailed Rory McIlroy’s arrival as a Ryder Cup superstar when the Holywood kid holed a monster birdie putt at the 17th to help Europe claw back a vital half in the weather-delayed fourballs.
Two down to Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar with seven to play, the Ulster pair came out with all guns blazing to rescue something positive for skipper Colin Montgomerie.
McIlroy cut the gap to one hole when he spun back his tee shot to three feet at the par-three 13th to grab his first birdie of the week.
He then dramatically levelled at the 211-yard 17th when he holed an uphill, left to right monster from 35 feet and punched the air in delight.
“That half a point was a very valuable one for us, personally,” McDowell said. “To watch Rory hole the putt he did on 17 and to really arrive at the Ryder Cup was amazing.
“One of the keys to winning in the Ryder Cup is having a great partner - I’ve got one.”
Hoping to snatch a win at the par-five 18th, McIlroy visited water with his second and fourth shots but McDowell’s solid par was enough to secure a half as the USA took a 2.5 to 1.5 lead into the six foursomes.
Delighted to open his Ryder Cup account thanks to his birdie at the 17th, McIlroy said: “It was an unbelievable feeling, and you know, you get so much support and so much buzz from the crowd, and it’s sort of nice to repay them in that manner.
“We could have snuck a win at the last but I think we probably would have taken a half on the 12th tee this morning.”