Jim Furyk carries Tiger Woods to victory
Tiger Woods again struggled to transfer his imperious tournament form into the team test of the Ryder Cup on Friday but this time managed to emerge with a point from the opening fourballs match.
In the previous three Ryder Cups the world number one had lost in opening pairs play but stopped the rot on Friday when he partnered Jim Furyk to a one up victory over Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington.
Woods' performance, though, was a far cry from those that brought him five consecutive PGA wins, including two majors, coming into the event and he had to lean heavily on Furyk for the first 10 holes.
It was a loss in the opening match to the same European pair that had earned Woods criticism in 2004 when he failed to gel with partner Phil Mickelson. The dispiriting defeat for the world's top two was cited as one of the reasons for America's subsequent record nine-point drubbing.
This time, however, Woods seemed much more comfortable with his partner and on every green he was to be seen conferring with the impressive Furyk.
He certainly needed the steady putting of Furyk after a poor front nine that showed up the Ryder Cup failings which have previously cost him three defeats out of four on opening morning.
Woods launched his round by sending his tee shot into the lake by the clubhouse way left hole and on several occasions had to rip into the emerald turf of the K Club violently to try to recover, each time to no avail.
His putting was fragile and he sent one extraordinary effort racing beyond the hole and off the green at the ninth.
He finally found his touch with important, long putts on the 11th and 12th but still managed to find water again with a straightforward approach later on.
However, with the Europeans failing with their own putters, Woods and his partner were able to see the game home to put the first point on the board.
"I was struggling early on," Woods said. "I didn't warm up particularly well and I was in the water at the very first hole. But Jim was solid early on and I started to hit some better shots towards the middle of the round.
"It was great to have a steady partner like Jim who was in at just about every hole."