By Tony Jimenez
GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy showed precisely why he is the world's number one golfer, making a barnstorming start to the final-day singles to spearhead Europe's victory push in the 40th Ryder Cup on Sunday.
Playing in the third match of the day, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman produced a spectacular opening as he powered four up on close friend Rickie Fowler.
McIlroy wielded a red-hot putter on a sunny day at Gleneagles, notching four birdies and an eagle in the first six holes to leave his American opponent reeling.
Europe, who led 10-6 overnight and need four points to retain the trophy they won in the 'Miracle at Medinah' two years ago, were up in three matches and down in three early on Sunday.
Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher, cheered to the rafters by his home crowd, was one up on Phil Mickelson after four while Martin Kaymer held the same advantage over Bubba Watson after three.
In the day's top match, American debutant Jordan Spieth was in command as he opened a three-hole lead over former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell through eight.
Hunter Mahan blitzed his way to four birdies in the first six holes to march four up on Justin Rose through six while Matt Kuchar was one up on Thomas Bjorn after two.
Henrik Stenson v Patrick Reed was all square after seven.
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)