Americans Morgan Pressel and Ryann O’Toole holed big putts to help the United States keep Europe in its sights in the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle.
With the sides level at 2-2 after the morning foursomes, Europe surged ahead in all four afternoon fourballs but to had to settle for a 4 1/2 - 3 1/2 lead after a windy opening day in Ireland.
Rookie Caroline Hedwall and fellow Swede Sophie Gustafson put Europe 3-2 ahead with a 5 and 4 win over Vicky Hurst and Brittany Lincicome.
However, Pressel and Paula Creamer fought back from one down with two holes to play to beat Europe’s Laura Davies and Melissa Reid by one hole.
English veteran Davies needs just one more point to overtake Annika Sorenstam become the Solheim Cup record points scorer.
But Creamer birdied the 17th from 18 feet to level the match and Pressel then holed a 25 footer for birdie at the 18th to clinch a one hole victory.
European nerves became more frayed when Catriona Matthew and Sandra Gal failed to close out victory against rookie O’Toole and Christina Kim.
The European pair were two up with three to play but Kim birdied the 16th and O’Toole birdied the 17th from long range to draw level and salvage a halved match
Europe won the fourball session 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 when Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist, who where three up at the turn, won the 18th with a conceded birdie to beat Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie by two holes.
“I’m really proud of the three and a half points that we have,” said U.S. Captain Rosie Jones. “I think it’s a great start with day one. We did real well on foursomes this morning. It could be even better tomorrow.”
Asked about the American rally in the afternoon fourballs, Jones said: “Well, it’s not over until it’s over. That’s why they put all 18 holes up in there. That’s why I give this team so much credit is because they don’t give up, they don’t like to lose.”
“You come down to the end like that, we just showed a lot of heart, a lot of heart today when we needed it.”
European captain Alison Nicholas said she was pleased with her side’s one point lead, though it could have been bigger.
“Could have, would have, fantastic words, but you can’t change anything,” Nicholas said. “They tried their best, and that’s all they can do. They gave a hundred. You can’t change.
“You can’t go back into the past. You stay where you are and we look forward. That’s golf. And that’s these conditions. It was tough out there.”
The morning foursomes could have gone either way but in the end both captains were happy to settle for a 2-2 tie.
Pettersen was the heroine for Europe, sinking an eight-foot birdie putt on the last alongside partner Sophie Gustafson to beat veteran Juli Inkster and Brittany Lang by one hole.
The US had trailed in three of the four matches at one stage but turned things around to lead 2-1 after Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome took advantage of a nervous finish by Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid to win on the 18th.
Suddenly it looked possible that Europe could trail 3-1 but Inkster missed a 10-foot birdie putt at the 18th and world No 2 Pettersen made hers to pull even.
Wie and Kerr gave the visitors an ideal start by beating Swedish duo Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist 2 and 1 in the opening match.
But Europe’s Matthew and Azahara Muñoz responded with a convincing 3 and 2 win over Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford, before the late drama in the last two matches.
Creamer and Lincicome began their comeback with a birdie to win the 15th and the Europeans then collapsed on the last two holes.
The United States is chasing a fourth successive victory in the biennial event.
Results Friday from the Solheim Cup at the par-72, 6,587-yard Killeen Castle course:
Overall: Europe 4 1/2, United States 3 1/2
Europe 2, United States 2
Michelle Wie - Cristie Kerr, United States def. Maria Hjorth - Anna Nordqvist, Europe 2 and 1;
Paula Creamer - Brittany Lincicome, United States def. Karen Stupples - Melissa Reid, Europe 1 hole;
Catriona Matthew - Azahara Muñoz, Europe def. Stacy Lewis - Angela Stanford, United States 3 and 2;
Suzann Pettersen - Sophie Gustafson, Europe def. Brittany Lang - Juli Inkster, United States 1 hole.
Europe 2 1/2, United States 1 1/2
Morgan Pressel - Paula Creamer, United States def. Laura Davies - Melissa Reid, Europe 1 hole;
Christina Kim - Ryann O’Toole, United States halved with Catriona Matthew - Sandra Gal, Europe;
Sophie Gustafson - Caroline Hedwall, Europe def. Vicky Hurst - Brittany Lincicome, United States 5 and 4;
Suzann Pettersen - Anna Nordqvist, Europe def. Cristie Kerr - Michelle Wie, United States 2 holes.
Saturday foursomes pairings
0740 BST Angela Stanford - Stacy Lewis, United States versus Caroline Hedwall - Sophie Gustafson, Europe;
0752 BST Morgan Pressel - Ryann O’Toole, United States versus Karen Stupples - Christel Boeljon, Europe;
0804 BST Brittany Lang - Juli Inkster, United States versus Maria Hjorth - Anna Nordqvist, Europe;
0816 BST Cristie Kerr - Paula Creamer, United States versus Catriona Matthew - Azahara Muñoz, Europe.