Saturday, September 29, 2012
United States draw first blood at Ryder Cup
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - The United States drew first blood in Friday's opening foursomes matches at the Ryder Cup when Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson beat Britain's Luke Donald and Spaniard Sergio Garcia 4&3.
Cup rookie Bradley drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-four 15th as the American duo came from one down after eight holes on a cool, breezy day at Medinah Country Club.
It was the first time Donald and Garcia had been beaten in foursomes matches together dating back to the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills.
"He played some of the best golf and to be his partner was an awesome experience," Cup veteran Mickelson told reporters about his partner Bradley.
"I love, love playing with this man. He's just so fun, loves the game and plays with such excitement and man, can he roll the rock."
Soon after, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell claimed Europe's first point when they edged Americans Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker one up after a tense, fluctuating battle in the top match.
World number one McIlroy and fellow Northern Irishman McDowell had been three up after 12 holes before the Americans pegged them back with three consecutive birdies from the 14th.
McDowell, who secured the winning point for Europe at Celtic Manor two years ago, wrapped up victory by sinking a four-foot par putt on the 18th green after both teams had troubles reaching the green.
In the remaining two matches out on the course, the U.S. led in one and holders Europe in the other.
Rookie Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson were two up on Britain's Lee Westwood and Italy's Francesco Molinari after 15 holes while Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose were three up on Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker after 14 holes in the anchor match.
Mickelson and Bradley made a good start after being sent out in the second match, going one up on Donald and Garcia after four holes before losing momentum.
The Europeans won the fifth and sixth holes to gain the lead before Bradley sank a six-footer to birdie the ninth to level the match.
However the Americans took control after the turn, going three up after Mickelson drained a 15-foot birdie putt at the 13th before Garcia missed a three-footer for par at the 14th.
Donald missed the green well to the left off the tee at the driveable par-four 15th and Bradley secured the first point for the U.S. with his monster birdie putt.
"I feel so comfortable out here with Phil because I know wherever I hit it, he's going to be able to get it up and down or close for me," said Bradley. "It was one of the most memorable days of my life so far."
The final encounter had been heavily anticipated with Stricker and Woods having compiled a 6-2 record in team play at the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup but they were struggling against good friends Rose and Poulter.
With chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole" ringing out across the course, Rose drained a curling 15-foot birdie putt at the fourth to put the Europeans one up and that advantage was doubled at the sixth when Woods missed a five-footer for par.
Woods struck a spectator on the head with another erratic drive at the par-five seventh, the bystander having to wipe the blood away with a towel.
(Editing by Julian Linden)