U.S. leads Europe after first day of Ryder Cup
After a dominating performance in the afternoon fourball matches on Friday afternoon, the United States has a 5-3 lead in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.
The U.S. side was led by the inspired pairing of Keegan Bradley, a fiery Ryder Cup rookie who played brilliantly and with an intensity that drew huge roars from the gallery, and Phil Mickelson, who is playing in his ninth Ryder Cup. After building a big lead against the Northern Irish duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on Friday afternoon, Bradley and Mickelson held on to win, 2 and 1. Mickelson sealed the match with a near hole-in-one on the par-3 17th. In the morning, they steamrolled the pairing of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia in their foursome (alternate shot) match, winning 4 and 3.
Tiger Woods was paired with his regular partner, Steve Stricker, for both sessions on Friday. Woods, who has won three times this season after playing poorly in 2011, was simply terrible in the morning foursome session. The team lost, 2 and 1, to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, and Woods was so wild off the tee that many observers were calling for him to sit out the afternoon session.
Captain Davis Love showed faith in the veteran team, however, and sent them out in fourballs against Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood. Woods was drastically improved, making clutch birdies at 16 and 17, and seven total birdies in the match, but it was not enough to overcome a brilliant performance by Colsaerts, a Belgian making his first Ryder Cup appearance. He made eight birdies and an eagle to lead his team to a 1-up win.
Bubba Watson, this year's Masters champ, and Webb Simpson, this year's U.S. Open champ, sat out the morning session but came out on fire in the afternoon, beating Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson, 5 and 4. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar also earned a point for the U.S. in the afternoon with a 3-and-2 victory over Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.
In other morning matches, Brandt Snedeker and Jim Furyk lost, 1 down, to McIlroy and McDowell; and Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner won, 3 and 2, against Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari.
Photo: Kohjiro Kinno/SI