Europe remained on course to regain the Ryder Cup as the United States failed to find the fast start they needed on the final day in Rome.
Needing just four points to regain the trophy, Europe captain Luke Donald unsurprisingly sent his strongest players out at the top of the singles order at Marco Simone.
Masters champion Jon Rahm took on world number one Scottie Scheffler in the first match, with Viktor Hovland facing Collin Morikawa in match two and and Justin Rose then taking on an in-form Patrick Cantlay.
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Rory McIlroy, who had been sent out first in each of the last three contests, was up against Sam Burns in match four and raced into a three-up lead after seven holes.
With all 12 matches out on the course, each side led in five with the other two all square.
Rahm had made the ideal start with a birdie on the first and was two up after five, but was pegged back by Scheffler, who had won just half a point from his three matches to date but took the lead at the 11th.
Hovland swiftly moved two up on Morikawa and Tyrrell Hatton won three of the first four holes against Open champion Brian Harman before a wild tee shot on the fifth gifted Harman a hole back.
Danish rookie Nicolai Hojgaard was also two up on Xander Schauffele, but Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas had taken early leads against Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka respectively.