Mickelson and Bradley lead the way as dominant USA add to Europe's misery
18:51 GMT, 29 September 2012
The sign in the sky said 'Do It for Seve', but it was the Americans – most notably Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson – who were still in charge as the Ryder Cup neared the halfway point in Chicago.
Davis Love's side, minus Tiger Woods after he was benched for the first time in his career, took the second morning foursomes 3-1, just as they did the first-day fourballs, and that meant an overall 8-4 advantage at Medinah.
Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, improving his phenomenal record in the event to 10 wins and only three losses, were the only winners for the holders in the session.
They beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, respectively the Masters and US Open champions, on the last in a game which began so dramatically with both Poulter and Watson encouraging the crowd to shout, cheer or do whatever they liked as they teed off.
Good start: Ian Poulter celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the first hole at Medinah
Dream team: Keegan Bradley (right) and Phil Mickelson (left) react to another brilliant putt
Partisan crowd: The Americans are benefiting from the home advantage
For pure theatre golf has never seen anything like this new trend, started by the eccentric Watson when he entered the fray on Friday afternoon.
But as they slugged it out over 18 holes, Mickelson and Bradley needed only 12 to thrash Luke Donald and Lee Westwood and register a third straight win together.
Their 7&6 drubbing of the world numbers two and four equalled the competition's record winning margin for either fourballs or foursomes.
Then, after Poulter and Rose had done their stuff, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts discovered that 18 hours in the Ryder Cup is a long time – time enough to go from ecstasy to agony.
The 29-year-old debutant notched eight birdies and an eagle as he gained the notable scalps of Woods and Steve Stricker in his first game.
Written in the sky: Vapour trails leave a message in the air for the European team before the morning foursomes
Soaking in the atmosphere: Bubba Watson stretches on the first tee on Saturday
Daunting: Justin Rose of Europe drives off the 14th tee
But on his return to the course his tee shot into the water on the 17th, the hole where he matched Woods's birdie the previous evening, led to a 2&1 one defeat for him and Sergio Garcia.
'It's pretty painful – very, very painful,' Colsaerts said. 'We got a decent chance to go to 18 and make something happen, but it's just one of those moments where you need a few Ryder Cups under your belt.'
World number one Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell looked as if they might make up for that when they birdied the 16th to be only one down to Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.
They were the two Americans they beat at the start of the match, but revenge was sweet as the home pair halved the final two holes for a one-up win. McDowell, the 2010 match-winner, was subsequently left out – as was Westwood, while Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer were rested all day.
The commanding lead allowed Love the luxury of giving Mickelson and Bradley a rest during the fourballs, Woods re-entering the fray alongside Stricker after two opening-day defeats for the fourth time.
Vital: Ian Poulter (right) shakes hands with Bubba Watson after winning their match on the 18th green
Patriots: USA fans during the Webb Simpson/Bubba Watson versus Justin Rose/Ian Poulter match
Cheerleaders: Amy Mickelson and Jillian Stacey, girlfriend of Keegan Bradley, follow their partners' match
Mickelson said: 'The European side has had some great team-mates – Seve and Ollie and some others – but to be able to share this experience with Keegan has been really awesome.
'We've had so much fun, the crowd has provided so much energy and it's brought our best golf out.'
Bradley added: 'I'm just thrilled I get to share this with Phil and play the way we did. And I got to witness on the good side one of those Phil pars on the last hole.'
That was a reference to the 12th. Mickelson drove into the trees, forcing his partner to lay up, but then his approach landed on the ridge some 30 feet left of the hole and trickled down to within inches.
Westwood, off on a bad foot when he dumped his tee shot into the water on the second, and Donald had been on in two, but three-putted and so did not win a single hole in a contest they finished three over par against their opponents' six under.
Short stuff: Luke Donald and Lee Westwood ponder a putt on the 12th
Painful viewing: Darren Clarke, Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez watch on the 17th
'Phil is a good partner to Keegan – he's obviously been a rock star this week – and they did nothing wrong,' Donald said. 'We didn't quite have our games and just couldn't quite get the momentum on our side.
'We just kept pushing and trying as hard as we could, but they kept coming up with great shots.
'We're certainly giving 100 per cent out there and we're going to still fight. It's not over until Sunday.'
Westwood added: 'We didn't play well enough and put enough pressure on them.'