Viktor Hovland fires up Europe as Ryder Cup finishing line comes into view

Team Europe’s Viktor Hovland won his match (Mike Egerton/PA)
Team Europe’s Viktor Hovland won his match (Mike Egerton/PA)

Europe drew first blood on the final day as the 44th Ryder Cup headed for a tense climax at Marco Simone.

The home side’s 10.5 to 5.5 overnight lead meant they needed just four more points to regain the trophy and Viktor Hovland edged them closer to the target with a comfortable 4&3 victory over Collin Morikawa in match two.

Scottie Scheffler then looked set to edge out Jon Rahm in a high-quality opening match as he took a narrow lead to the 18th, but hit a clumsy chip from the front of the green and could not match Rahm’s nerveless two-putt birdie from 90 feet.

That half point made the overall score 12-6 and eased the nerves of Europe captain Luke Donald, who could see the United States ahead in six of the remaining 10 matches.

Rory McIlroy looked on course to close out a win over Sam Burns, with Tyrrell Hatton also in the driving seat against Open champion Brian Harman.

But Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth were all ahead in the next four matches, meaning the bottom two matches were beginning to look increasingly important.

Fortunately for European fans, Tommy Fleetwood was one up on Rickie Fowler at the turn and Robert MacIntyre two up on US Open champion Wyndham Clark in the anchor match.