McIlroy clashes with a fan at Ryder Cup as USA storm clear
Rory McIlroy called for a foul-mouthed fan to be ejected and found a potential long-term Ryder Cup partner in inspired rookie Thomas Pieters - but Europe's bid for an historic victory suffered a setback at hostile Hazeltine.
After being whitewashed in Friday's opening session, Darren Clarke's side hit back to win three of the afternoon fourballs and they maintained that momentum on Saturday to win two and a half points from the morning foursomes.
McIlroy and Pieters, who was living up to his billing from Clarke as a future world number one, then combined for nine birdies and an eagle to beat Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka and level the overall match score.
However, Clarke's decision to partner Danny Willett with Lee Westwood and split up the Spanish pairing of Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello backfired badly, a decision compounded as top pairing Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose also lost 2&1 to a brilliant Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.
That left the holders trailing 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 heading into Sunday's 12 singles matches and needing a comeback similar to the 'Miracle of Medinah' in 2012 to claim an unprecedented fourth straight win.
All square with two to play, Willett and Westwood contrived to both bogey the short 17th, before Westwood missed from two feet for birdie on the last to escape with half a point.
Garcia and Cabrera Bello had recovered from four down with six to play against Reed and Spieth in the foursomes, but Kaymer managed just two birdies in the fourballs alongside Garcia as they went down 2&1 to Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar.
McIlroy and Pieters had raced into a four-hole lead at the turn, but that did not sit well with some sections of the home crowd and while McIlroy walked to the eighth tee a male spectator yelled ''Suck a d*** Rory'' directly at the Northern Irishman, according to a number of on-course reporters who were following the match.
A video clip posted on Twitter showed McIlroy doubling back - with some fans urging him to carry on walking and others calling for the offender to be kicked out - and confronting the man before then asking security to remove him. Reports later suggested that had happened.
"Someone just said a few derogatory things I thought were over the line," McIlroy said after a third straight win alongside 24-year-old wild card Pieters. "I tried to get him removed. I'm not sure if he was removed or not but these things happen.
"It is golf at the end of the day. You try to keep your utmost for who you are playing and for who you are supporting. That particular guy, who is obviously in a very, very, very small minority, just took it a bit too far.
"It's a tough environment but we expect that. You have to keep your concentration out there and it's been a long day and sometimes emotions run high.
"It fuelled me a lot. The more they shouted, the better we played, so I hope they shout at us all day tomorrow."
European vice-captain Ian Poulter wrote on Twitter: "The US players are policing the fans as they are embarrassed of there (sic) behavior. Shame some spoiling this..."