Tag Archives: mcdowell

Graeme McDowell leads in California going into the final round

McDowell on course to end year on high as he takes two shot lead into final round in California

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UPDATED:

09:02 GMT, 2 December 2012

Graeme McDowell remains on course for victory at the World Golf Challenge after a solid third round at Thousand Oaks.

The Northern Irishman soared to the top of the leaderboard yesterday with a six-under 66 and heads into the final day two clear at the top after following up with a 68.

It was a bogey-free round from the European Ryder Cup star and also included four birdies as he moved to 13 under for the tournament.

Leading the pack: Graeme McDowell leads in California

Leading the pack: Graeme McDowell leads in California

Keegan Bradley, in the news recently for his vocal defence of the endangered belly-putting technique, sits second on 11 under after signing for a 67 – the joint best round of the day alongside Bubba Watson.

He made six birdies but dropped a shot at the par-four ninth.

In the hole: McDowell makes a putt on the 15th

In the hole: McDowell makes a putt on the 15th

Competition host Tiger Woods is tied for third with Bo Van Pelt five shots off the lead.
England's Ian Poulter failed to crack 70 for the third time in a row and is way off the pace at even par.

Graeme McDowell pulls three strokes clear in World Golf Challenge in California

McDowell pulls three strokes clear after superb round in California

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UPDATED:

00:38 GMT, 1 December 2012

Graeme McDowell hit the round of the day to go three shots clear at the World Golf Challenge in California.

The Northern Irishman, who was in a chasing pack of three after a first-round 69, signed for a six-under 66 today to move to nine under overall.

He kicked off with three successive birdies and added four more in the back nine to weigh against a solitary dropped shot at the par-four seventh.

Round of the day: Graeme McDowell pulled three shots clear

Round of the day: Graeme McDowell pulled three shots clear

American trio Bo Van Pelt, Jim Furyk and Keegan Bradley are tied for second on six under, with the latter making a bogey-free round including three birdies.

Host Tiger Woods lies one stroke further back after signing for a 69 – dropping shots at eight and 15 either side of four birdies in five holes.

Australia's Jason Day is bottom of the 18-man field on two over through 36 holes, with the third and final non-American, England's Ian Poulter, also struggling on one above par.

Overnight leader Nick Watney slipped back to five shots off the lead after following his day-one score of 67 with a 73.

When it rains... McDowell sought cover from the rain

When it rains… McDowell sought cover from the rain

Tied: Bo Van Pelt is in joint second place

Tied: Bo Van Pelt is in joint second place

Graeme McDowell gets engaged to Kristin Stape

G-Mac finds perfect playing partner as Ryder Cup star gets engaged to Kristin Stape

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UPDATED:

09:31 GMT, 22 November 2012

Old romantic Graeme McDowell hit the heights in Dubai as he proposed to his girlfriend on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab.

McDowell, taking part in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship this week, went down on one knee to pop the question to long-time partner Kristin Stape.

The Northern Irishman – solid as a rock when closing out a US Open or the final match of a Ryder Cup, admitted to a bit of a wobble 700ft above the UAE.

Two for tee: Graeme McDowell and Kristin Stape will get married in 2013

Two for tee: Graeme McDowell and Kristin Stape will get married in 2013

He said: 'She had no idea what was going on and was shocked and stunned. I even found myself getting a little bit emotional. It was a very special location, looking out over Dubai.'

McDowell met American Stape when he contacted her interior designer business to decorate his Orlando home and the couple are set to get married at the end of 2013.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy, McDowell's friend and fellow countryman, will also be celebrating this week as he is officially crowned the winner of the Race to Dubai.

McIlroy tweeted: 'Congrats to my good friend @Graeme_McDowell on his engagement to the lovely @kristinstape! Delighted.'

Colin Montgomerie set to host Golf Live"s tournament at Celtic Manor

Montgomerie set to return to scene of 2010 Ryder Cup triumph by heading celeb tournament at Celtic Manor

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UPDATED:

16:09 GMT, 8 November 2012

Colin Montgomerie will return to the scene of his Ryder Cup triumph to host an A-list celebrity tournament next year.

The Scot captained the European Ryder Cup team as they defeated the USA at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales.

Now the 49-year-old is heading a list of pro golfers and celebrities to raise money for charity at the Manor.

In the name of fun: The likes of Chris Evans (pictured) and Catherine Zeta-Jones have turned out in years gone by

In the name of fun: The likes of Chris Evans (pictured) and Catherine Zeta-Jones have turned out in years gone by

Celtic Manor also hosted the All Star Cup in 2005 and 2006 which was presented by Ant and Dec, and Montgomerie is set to oversee four teams of celebrities at the latest Golf Live event in May 10-12 2013.

Montgomerie said: 'Golf Live has created a real buzz since it started and I’m really excited at the prospect of the new celebrity competition.

'There is no other event like it in golf, and for golfers to be given the chance to come along and see the interaction between the pros, the general public and now the celebrities is fantastic.

'Golf Live truly offers something for everybody and the fact that it is in aid of my mother’s foundation and is being staged next year at Celtic Manor, a venue very close to my heart after my captaincy of Europe’s Ryder Cup win there two years ago, makes it extra special for me.'

In previous years, the likes of Chris Evans, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sir Steve Redgrave, actors Damian Lewis and James Nesbitt, model Jodie Kidd and rock stars Alice Cooper and Meatloaf have all turned out for the cause.

Remember this: Colin Montgomerie (left) captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor

Remember this: Colin Montgomerie (left) captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor

Get in! Graeme McDowell putted home for Europe at Celtic Manor

Get in! Graeme McDowell putted home for Europe at Celtic Manor

Peter Hanson beats Rory McIlroy to win BMW Masters

McIlroy fails to catch Hanson as Swede edges out Ryder Cup team-mate in Shanghai

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UPDATED:

11:51 GMT, 28 October 2012

Just a month after failing to win a point at the Ryder Cup – and being left on the sidelines for three of the five sessions – Peter Hanson had the sweetest win of his career on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Swede just held off world No 1 Rory McIlroy to take the BMW Masters title in Shanghai against a field that also included nine more of his European team-mates from Medinah.

With Luke Donald coming third and Ian Poulter fourth it was a week dominated by members of Jose Maria Olazabal's side, but Hanson was the one to come out on top.

Peter Hanson

Peter Hanson

Main man: Peter Hanson beat Rory McIlroy by one shot to win the BMW Masters in Shanghai

BMW Masters in Shanghai

Click here for final standings

/10/28/article-2224291-15B99DBB000005DC-683_634x443.jpg” width=”634″ height=”443″ alt=”Better luck next time: Hanson (right) with McIlroy after the Swede won in Shanghai” class=”blkBorder” />

Better luck next time: Hanson (right) with McIlroy after the Swede won in Shanghai

Race to Dubai standings

1 Rory McIlroy 2,766,222
2 Peter Hanson 2,106,534
3 Justin Rose 2,044,670
4 Branden Grace 1,669,984
5 Louis Oosthuizen 1,532,375
6 Francesco Molinari 1,474,414
7 Graeme McDowell 1,452,423
8 Luke Donald 1,445,831
9 Ernie Els 1,426,399
10 Paul Lawrie 1,410,431

World No 25 Hanson's par save from 15 feet preserved the gap, but there was still a possibility of a play-off when Hanson's approach to the 471-yard last came down in rough above a bunker.

He thought he might be entitled to a free drop because of a plugged lie, but was refused it and after doing well to chip to 10 feet he breathed a sigh of relief when McIlroy's 15-foot birdie attempt just missed.

That left Hanson with two putts for his sixth European Tour win – the last came with a closing eagle in Holland last month – and he took them.

'Rory made a tremendous effort and put quite a bit of pressure on me – his second to the 15th was true class,' Hanson added.

'He gave me a bit of a cushion early on (McIlroy missed two four-foot par putts) and I was maybe a little too defensive at the end, but it all worked out.

'My short game used to be my weak part, but I've been working on it and my putting has really improved.'

Marching on: Hanson held his nerve on the final day to maintain his lead in Shanghai

Marching on: Hanson held his nerve on the final day to maintain his lead in Shanghai

In Chicago Hanson was angry to be left out all day Saturday and he said the following week that he might not be sending captain Olazabal 'that many Christmas cards'.

But the pair chatted last week and are back on good terms.

'I was a bit disappointed,' Hanson said, 'but there's no feeling of revenge or wanting to show everyone now. It's a team effort and we ended up winning it.'

McIlroy is staying in China, but only for a one-day head-to-head against Tiger Woods – joint fourth in Malaysia today after a closing 63.

The rest of the week is being spent with his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in Bulgaria – she is playing a tournament there – but he returns to Asia for the Singapore Open and his defence of the Hong Kong Open.

Those events will give the 23-year-old the opportunity to clinch the money list double before the race-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai on November 22-25.

Not his day: McIlroy reacts after missing a put as he has to settle for second place

Not his day: McIlroy reacts after missing a put as he has to settle for second place

'I'm happy with how I played, but a little disappointed,' McIlroy said. 'I missed a few opportunities on the front nine and it was too little, too late.

'I wanted to make him work for it and it would have been nice to hole the putt on the last, but it wasn't to be and Peter deserved it.'

A closing birdie by Donald for a 66 enabled him to deny Poulter, who had a 65, a share of third place, while there were no fewer than nine of the Ryder Cup side in the top 15.

Justin Rose, now down to third on the 'Race to Dubai', tied for sixth, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell were joint 11th and Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts finished in joint 14th.

'It just shows we had a strong team,' Donald said.

Poulter added: “The board is full of Ryder Cup players, which you would expect.

'The guys are still on a high – and rightly so.'

Pardaig Harrington to play in Grand Slam of Golf as Ernie Els pulls out with ankle injury

Bermuda bonanza for Harrington as Els pulls out of Grand Slam of Golf

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UPDATED:

10:44 GMT, 21 October 2012

Bonanza: Harrington

Bonanza: Harrington

Ireland's Padraig Harrington has suddenly found himself called into the four-man PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal in Bermuda on Tuesday and Wednesday, and even if he finishes last he will earn 125,000.

Harrington replaces Open champion Ernie Els, who has pulled out with a left ankle injury, and in an event meant to bring together the season's four major winners is up against Masters champion Bubba Watson, US Open winner Webb Simpson and last year's USPGA champion Keegan Bradley – himself a replacement for Rory McIlroy.

Northern Ireland's world No 1 qualified with his USPGA victory in August, but is defending the BMW Masters title in Shanghai this week, while second and third alternates Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods are also honouring commitments to play in Asia.

Harrington said: 'While my entry is under unique circumstances, I am excited to compete in the event again. I came close the last two times I was there, losing in play-offs to Angel Cabrera in 2007 and Jim Furyk in 2008, so maybe the third time will be a charm.'

Els, winner in 1997 and 2010, stated: 'I am bitterly disappointed. It is a great reward for winning a major and something I have enjoyed in the past and was looking forward to again.

Ankle injury: Els has had to pull out of the event in Bermuda

Ankle injury: Els has had to pull out of the event in Bermuda

'Unfortunately I sprained my left ankle a few days ago and while it isn't too serious and should recover relatively quickly, I have been advised not to try and play on it.'

The winner receives 375,000 and the runner-up 187,500.

Golfers Overpaid? Most earnings aren"t on a par with Justin Rose"s – Derek Lawrenson

Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 15 October 2012

Are professional golfers wildly overpaid As we enter the silly season of lavish appearance fees and guaranteed prize money, a period that has seen Justin Rose make 2million already, it would be easy to succumb to the idea.

But judging any profession by the lucky few who make it to the summit is always a skewed notion.

For a better perspective, look at the man currently holding down 115th place in the Race to Dubai. In other words, the final spot to ensure playing privileges for next year.

Sealed with a kiss: Justin Rose won a small fortune in Turkey last week

Sealed with a kiss: Justin Rose won a small fortune in Turkey last week

Jamie Elson was a direct contemporary of some of the high rollers in the UK game. He played in the same winning Walker Cup team as Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald and turned pro with the same dreams. Five years later, he was selling coffee machines and distributing leaflets in supermarkets.

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Now he is back on the ladder, plying his trade on the second best tour in world golf. Over the past three years he has made around 430,000, which sounds great until you strip out 100,000 for hotels, caddie fees and the like.

Still, excellent money in the real world, of course, and certainly a better rate than selling coffee machines. But not wildly overpaid.

So that’s what you earn if you are the 115th best player in Europe.

Below Elson are all the wannabes on the Challenge Tour who are good enough to routinely shoot scores in the 60s and yet struggle to pay the mortgage. And below them are thousands more playing for their own money each week in small-scale pro events knowing they need to finish in the top six or so to make any dosh at all.

Yes, make it into the world’s top 50 and you can have a holiday home in an exotic location and your pick of the best luxury motors.

Make it into the top 10 and you are earning absolute fortunes.

But there are a lot of really good pro golfers out there who are not overpaid, never mind wildly so.

Christian facing the cut

Is our favourite former knife salesman about to suffer the cruellest cut of all This time last year we were bringing to your attention the heartwarming story of Englishman Gary Christian, who once did that job — among others — to make ends meet and who had battled on to make it to the most glamorous circuit in world golf for the first time at the age of 40.

So, how has he fared in his rookie year on the US Tour Well, there have certainly been plenty of highlights, as anyone following his entertaining Twitter account can testify.

There has been a top-10 finish and he played so well in the first two rounds of the opening FedEx Cup event he got to partner Tiger Woods.

But, the bottom line is that a missed halfway cut last week has left Christian in 127th place in the money list, with two events remaining — and only the top 125 keep their cards for next year.

What is known, in sporting parlance, as squeaky-bum time.

Cambo back in the swing of things

I must admit, there have been times over the past nine years when I’ve bumped into Michael Campbell in clubhouses, hotel elevators and the like, and really not known what to say.

Befitting his status as one of the game’s gentlemen, he’d always warmly say hello. But, after the opening pleasantries, how do you have a conversation with a man who went from beating Tiger Woods to win the 2005 US Open to falling so far he was outside the world’s top 1,300 There are only so many polite variations on ‘Why bother carrying on’ aren’t there

Mr Nice Guy: Michael Campbell had a welcome return to form at Vilamoura

Mr Nice Guy: Michael Campbell had a welcome return to form at Vilamoura

Well, at the age of 43, the man known far and wide as Cambo has come up with his own response, and what a gratifying one it is, too. At the Portugal Masters on Sunday, the Kiwi confirmed the small recovery steps he has been taking by finishing third for his first podium placing for four long years. Moreover, he put together four scores in the 60s for the first time since 2003.

This morning, he must feel almost as elated as he did on that unforgettable day seven years ago, when parliament back home in New Zealand suspended business so they could watch one of their own win America’s national title.

Quote of the week

‘For years I was known as the fella who won the Irish Open as an amateur. Now I have won this prestigious title, I don’t quite know what to say.’

Congratulations to Shane Lowry, winner of the Portugal Masters on Sunday. Let’s hope this victory, the first on tour by a player from the Republic of Ireland since the 25-year-old’s own success at Baltray three years ago, heralds the start of a revival for golfers from the southern branch.

A long time coming: Ireland's Shane Lowry won the Portugal Masters

A long time coming: Ireland's Shane Lowry won the Portugal Masters

Ryder Cup 2012: Ian Poulter shows bulldog spirit: But Europe face huge task to defeat USA

Pumped-up Poulter shows bulldog spirit… but Europe face huge task to defeat USA

By
Malcolm Folley

PUBLISHED:

00:20 GMT, 30 September 2012

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UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 30 September 2012

Ian Poulter, a fist-pumping, snarling, bulldog of a golfer, offered the European team outside hope of defending the Ryder Cup here.

Poulter holed a 12-foot putt on the 18th green to defeat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson with his fifth consecutive birdie. On the side of the green, the European team celebrated as one while Rory McIlroy embraced his playing partner.

It was a one-man show of defiance from Poulter. ‘It’s going to be bloody hard tomorrow, but we’ve got to take it to them,’ he said.

Fist of fury: Ian Poulter celebrates after keeping his nerve to win a point for Europe in the final match

Fist of fury: Ian Poulter celebrates
after keeping his nerve to win a point for Europe in the final match

Poulter and McIlroy’s victory came
minutes after Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia had defeated Tiger Woods and
Steve Stricker by one hole as Europe at least reminded the Americans
they remain in a fight. As a result of the late European heroics, the
Americans will begin the final day 10-6 ahead.

‘Poulter was awesome,’ said McIlroy. ‘When he gets that look in his eye he can do anything.’

At last the American crowd was made
to feel nervous; at last this Ryder Cup had become a contest rather than
a ceremonial procession for those representing Uncle Sam. Finally, the
tension was palpable.

Grim viewing: Jose Maria Olazabal cannot bear to watch

Grim viewing: Jose Maria Olazabal cannot bear to watch

Jose Maria Olazabal has been a
low-profile captain, at times appearing invisible. Yet, behind closed
doors after a ragged, unprofitable first day for the stars of the
European game, he voiced his displeasure in a speech of controlled
anger.

‘We got the hair dryer treatment,’
said Graeme McDowell. And McIlroy, a fervent Manchester United fan,
added: ‘It was a roasting, real Sir Alex Ferguson stuff.’

Olazabal failed to generate the
response he had hoped for until the end of a momentous day. Yet Davis
Love III’s men need just 4 more points to reclaim the trophy.

Olazabal’s captaincy of the European
team is unlikely to be regaled in tales of wonder. For when the story of
the 39th Ryder Cup is retold, we will think of Americans Keegan
Bradley, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and the ageless Phil
Mickelson burying the reputations of the finest golfers from the other
side of the Atlantic beneath the first fall of leaves at the Medinah
Country Club.

We will struggle to understand how
Olazabal had been unable to galvanise such renowned players as McIlroy,
Donald, Lee Westwood, McDowell, Garcia and Justin Rose into offering
greater resistance.

‘It’s a crisis now,’ said Colin
Montgomerie, who proved a shrewd captain of Europe at Celtic Manor two
years ago. ‘Our players haven’t performed to their ability and that’s
why the gap has widened all the time.’

Defining moment: Dustin Johnson (centre) celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the 17th hole

Defining moment: Dustin Johnson (centre) celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the 17th hole

In Wales, Monty had been a general
buzzing around the course from match to match, like Seve Ballesteros had
done so memorably at Valderrama in 1997.

Once Olazabal had worked in magical
tandem with his late friend in the Ryder Cup, yet his desire to emulate
Ballesteros’s triumph as captain was fading faster than the sun setting
over Chicago.

‘The difference has been mainly
around the greens,’ said Olazabal. ‘Our boys are not making the putts.
And, it’s true, some of them haven’t performed to their expectations.’

Fighting against the tide: Sergio Garcia (right) congratulates Luke Donald after winning the eighth hole

Fighting against the tide: Sergio Garcia (right) congratulates Luke Donald after winning the eighth hole

Only an exceptional performance from
every man in the European team in the 12 single matches can deny the
Americans from reclaiming Sam Ryder’s old trophy. That seems unlikely.
On what we know, all that is to be determined is the scale of the
American victory.

Inside the European team there is an
air of despondency that is too late to be dispersed. Each putt that
failed to go in — and Nicolas Colsaearts was a victim of some cruel
near-misses — brought closer the reality of defeat.

Donald tried to make sense of the
manner in which Bradley has placed the Ryder Cup under his spell.
Bradley, 26, from Woodstock, has made sweet music in harmony with Phil
Mickelson to the unbridled joy of the home crowd.

‘Keegan’s been like a rock star this week,’ said Donald.

US yay: Keegan Bradley shows his delight as the Americans stamp their authority on the morning foursomes, to the delight of the home crowd

US yay: Keegan Bradley shows his delight as the Americans stamp their
authority on the morning foursomes, to the delight of the home crowd

Bradley and Mickelson won their third
point by defeating Donald and Westwood 7&6 in the morning
foursomes. It was perhaps as much humiliation as a man can experience
with his clothes on and equalled the worst-ever Ryder Cup beating, when
Nick Faldo and David Gilford were flattened by Paul Azinger and Mark
O’Meara at Kiawah Island 21 years ago. If that 1991 Ryder Cup became
known as the War on the Shore, there is a distinct possibility this
might become the Mismatch at Medinah.

By lunchtime, the United States had
stretched their lead to 8-4, having won the foursomes 3-1. Everywhere
you looked American golfers were pumping fists as a pall of glumness
descended over the Europeans.

It was unimaginable to suppose
Westwood, a man with a record of distinction in seven previous Ryder
Cups, could play so disappointingly. Yet too many European players have
been far from their best.

It would be inexcusable if credit was
not paid to the Americans, so expertly managed by Love. When the
moment arises, Olazabal will accept defeat with dignity and a warm
handshake but his swansong in the Ryder Cup was not supposed to end like
this.

Keegan Bradley brings new backbone to USA

Rookie Bradley brings new backbone to USA

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UPDATED:

23:36 GMT, 28 September 2012

The only time Keegan Bradley had
attended a Ryder Cup before this was the notorious Brookline edition in
1999, when his father Mark hoisted the then 13 year-old on his shoulders
to give him a view over the crowds.

Mark Bradley could not help but
remember that visit on Friday as he watched his son overcome cloying
nerves on the first tee and nail his opening drive down the fairway in
the second Foursomes match of the Ryder Cup.

Get in: Keegan Bradley celebrates

Get in: Keegan Bradley celebrates

As last year's USPGA winner Keegan should be equipped to deal with the major moments, that title earning him repeat chants of 'Major winner!' before he teed off, designed to mock his opponents Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who have so far fallen short of that honour.

The family Bradley – which includes Auntie Pat, one of America's best women golfers – need not have worried, for that drive up the first was the precursor to one of the finest debut days ever seen in the competition.

The 26 year-old from Vermont capped a magnificent display with his belly putter by holing a monster on the fifteenth to down Donald and Garcia four and three before lunch, and afterwards he helped derail the European juggernaut of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell two and one alongside Phil Mickelson.

More than anyone, even Nicolas Colsaerts, Bradley made this the day of the rookie, and with his wired, eye-bulging intensity he turned out to be America's answer to Ian Poulter. Asked if he was tired at the end he blurted 'Oh baby, I could go 36 more.'

Up for it: Bradley after nearly making a long eagle putt on the 15th

Up for it: Bradley after nearly making a long eagle putt on the 15th

Another massive achievement was that he
managed to turn Mickelson into some kind of Ryder Cup titan rather than
the wimp he has often looked in this competition.

Against Europe's go-to pairing in the afternoon Bradley, lining up his
putts with the look of a psychopath planning some dastardly deed,
delivered five birdies to establish a three hole lead.

When his level then dropped a little Mickelson was inspired to step into
the breach, carving out a series of halves against McIlroy to protect
it, culminating with a sensational drive on the seventeenth over the
water to win their second point .

Over these three days the Americans desperately need their veteran
triumvirate of Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, who have been the
wobbly spine of the team for the past fifteen years, to come good.

Delight: Bradley celebrates victory over Donald and Garcia

Delight: Bradley celebrates victory over Donald and Garcia

They bear the most responsibility for America's sliding performance in
the bi-annual as a virtual common denominator in the turnaround of the
Europeans' fortunes that goes back to Mickelson's debut in 1995.

The Californian has four Majors, but prior to yesterday he had played in
eight Ryder Cups and won just fourteen points from 34 matches, too
often going missing when his team most needed him.

Woods has only a marginally better record and Furyk one even worse, but
at least Mickleson yesterday started to look more backbone than
invertebrate, thanks to the company of someone who was barely nine when
he made his Ryder Cup debut.

Ryder Cup 2012: US team take the first-day honours

Euro slump: Agony for Olazabal's men as USA team go on charge

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 29 September 2012

LIVE: Ryder Cup 2012

Click here to follow all Friday's action from Medinah Country Club as it happened

So much for the value of experience at the Ryder Cup. First day honours went America's way on Friday largely because its exciting new stars stepped emphatically up to the plate.

Credit the veteran Phil Mickelson, who enjoyed his best day in these matches, and might have played the shot of the day to clinch a fourballs victory over Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

But the reason the United States enjoy a 5-3 lead going into this morning's foursomes owed much to the electrifying input of players like Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and in particular Mickelson's effervescent partner, Keegan Bradley.

Get in: Phil Mickelson (left) celebrates with rookie Keegan Bradley after a fourballs victory

Get in: Phil Mickelson (left) celebrates with rookie Keegan Bradley after a fourballs victory

What a day: Nicolas Colsaerts finished in remarkable fashion

What a day: Nicolas Colsaerts finished in remarkable fashion

Agony: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were beaten in the fourballs by Mickelson and Bradley

Agony: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were beaten in the fourballs by Mickelson and Bradley

How the young man fired up the
veteran, often so pallid in these matches. Not with the hot-wired
Bradley playing with a magnificent intensity for the most impressive
debut these matches have seen since Sergio Garcia took two points on the
first day at Brookline in 1999.

Youth had its day for Europe as well,
in the shape of McIlroy and the amazing Nicolas Colsaerts.

The record
books will show the Belgian marked his debut in this contest by teaming
up with Lee Westwood to beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the
afternoon fourballs.

But the record books will lie.

Big hitter: Bubba Watson was spurred on by the raucous home crowd

Big hitter: Bubba Watson was spurred on by the raucous home crowd

Carried: Colsaerts had an unbelievable debut at Medinah and led Lee Westwood (right)

Carried: Colsaerts had an unbelievable debut at Medinah and led Lee Westwood (right)

Way to putt: Bradley was on fire on the greens

Way to putt: Bradley was on fire on the greens

Way to putt: Bradley was on fire on the greens

Nicely done: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar celebrated winning their match in the fourballs

Nicely done: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar celebrated winning their match in the fourballs

The
truth is that Colsaerts put in one of the most astonishing performances
these matches have seen to actually beat the combined efforts of his
opponents singlehandedly.

/09/29/article-2210297-15421D19000005DC-1_634x414.jpg” width=”634″ height=”414″ alt=”Struggle: Tiger Woods' late surge could not prevent his fourballs loss to Westwood and Colsaerts ” class=”blkBorder” />

Struggle: Tiger Woods' late surge could not prevent his fourballs loss to Westwood and Colsaerts

Euro slump: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) was forced to watch his team give up an early lead to the Americans

Euro slump: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) was forced to watch his team give up an early lead to the Americans

Time to celebrate: Webb Simpson and his wife, Dowd, looked in jubilant spirits after earning a point

Time to celebrate: Webb Simpson and his wife, Dowd, looked in jubilant spirits after earning a point

Some of the action was truly
spectacular. Shots are supposed to be played in a heavenly quiet but
trust the irrepressible Bubba to rip up that rule book, just as he has
every other.

The man who has never had a lesson in his life actually
asked for the crowd to ramp up the noise when he played his first tee
shot, and from that moment onwards, the fanatical home support roared
their approval as Watson and his playing partner Simpson gave them
plenty to get excited about.

America had the star of this day in
Bradley but Woods was again left pointless from two matches.

Fair
enough, he made his full contribution to the thrilling afternoon match,
where the man who used to intimidate with his power was outdriven by 30
yards on occasion by Colsaerts.

Final green: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate after beating Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

Final green: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate after beating Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

Rory's roar: McIlroy reacts after he and McDowell won the fourth hole of their opening match at Medinah

Rory's roar: McIlroy reacts after he and McDowell won the fourth hole of their opening match at Medinah

First blood: Keegan Bradley (right) celebrates with Phil Mickelson after the pair beat Donald and Garcia

First blood: Keegan Bradley (right) celebrates with Phil Mickelson after the pair beat Donald and Garcia

Upset: Luke Donald of England (left) and Sergio Garcia of Spain (right) lost their unbeaten foursomes record

Upset: Luke Donald of England (left) and Sergio Garcia of Spain (right) lost their unbeaten foursomes record

But in the morning, he had practically
handed Justin Rose and Ian Poulter a point.

Typical Poulter, of course, as he
holed a bunker shot and knocked in a vital putt to allow Europe to
escape with parity in the opening skirmishes.

But typical Woods, too, be
so far below his best.

The man who has rewritten most of the
game's record books was at it again but, this being team golf, it was a
new low rather than another high. Woods has now officially drawn level
with Raymond Floyd as statistically the worst foursomes player in
American Ryder Cup history.

Wayward: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were beaten by Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the foursomes

Wayward: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were beaten by Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the foursomes

Talisman: Poulter celerates after holing his bunker shot on the 11th hole during the foursomes

Talisman: Poulter celerates after holing his bunker shot on the 11th hole during the foursomes

In 13 appearances in this format he has lost
no fewer than eight.

There might not have been a worse
performance than this. Perhaps he and Stricker were guilty of trying too
hard. Let's be charitable and put it down to that.

What was undeniable
was that Woods turned in an absolute shocker, featuring a fluffed chip,
and a series of drives that explored the outer perimeters of the course.

He hit a portable toilet with one wayward missile, while another
knocked a spectator to the ground and drew blood.

Blow: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari were beaten by Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner

Blow: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari were beaten by Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner

Dynamic duo: Dufner and Zach Johnson celebrate a birdie putt on the tenth green

Dynamic duo: Dufner and Zach Johnson celebrate a birdie putt on the tenth green

First blood to Poulter as well, then,
as he took his magnificent Ryder Cup record to nine wins against just
three defeats. Once more, his partnership with Rose delivered.

Europe's other point came in the top
match from another trusted partnership, Rory McIlroy and Graeme
McDowell, who came through by the narrowest of margins against Jim Furyk
and Brandt Snedeker.

The pair then took on Bradley and
Mickelson but McDowell had little left to give. McIlroy did his valiant
best but there was no way anyone could take on this formidable
partnership on their own.

Sandman: McIlroy plays from a bunker during Friday morning's Ryder Cup foursomes

Sandman: McIlroy plays from a bunker during Friday morning's Ryder Cup foursomes

Tee time: Mickelson hits his opening shot on the fourth hole during his successful foursomes match

Tee time: Mickelson hits his opening shot on the fourth hole during his successful foursomes match

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

1 Nicolas Colsaerts: the laidback Belgian is a former DJ who was on song when he was eight under at one point in a blistering debut.

2 Poulter power: the man with the manic eye-bulging celebration is the heart and soul of the European team. Will surely play twice on Saturday.

3 The long game: Captain Jose Maria Olazabal does not want his big guns to be exhausted on the crucial final day, hence all 12 players tasting first-day action. Expect more of Europe's big guns to be rested today.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL

1 Peter Hanson: produced a chip that every hacker would have been proud of, thinning his bunker shot over the green and into a grandstand wall.

2 Dynamic duos: the US have two dream teams – Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley are a match made in heaven while God-fearing duo Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson play golf from the angels.

3 History lesson: days one and two have traditionally been Europe's best. They need a lead going into tomorrow's singles.

In the morning, Bradley and Mickelson
took on arguably Europe's strongest foursomes pairing, Luke Donald and
Sergio Garcia, and demolished them.

Bradley was so excited at making his
Ryder Cup debut he was the first player on the property and practised
for an hour in the dark.

He looked a Ryder Cup star in the making when
he holed a clutch putt to win the Bridgestone Invitational last month
but no-one could have foreseen this sensational performance.

Mickelson
tried his best to calm him but Bradley is a performer who thrives on
adrenalin.

That was the moment the whole tenor of
the morning play changed. Up to then, Europe were ahead in all four
matches, and Medinah was a library.

The joy of foursomes, though, is how
quickly the momentum shifts and during a dramatic hour it slipped from
the visitors. They were never to regain it.

The compelling series of events were
due reward for the spectators who had literally started queuing in the
middle of the night in advance of the gates opening at 5-30am.

Soon the
stands behind and to the right of the first tee were filled with
spectators sporting the colours of both sides. Two hours later, the
songs and the chants rang out. The Ryder Cup had begun and, as ever, it
exerted its grip.

Cheerleader: Former Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan is now part of the American backroom team

Cheerleader: Former Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan is now part of the American backroom team

Flying the flag: American fans provided a raucous atmosphere for the opening stages of the Cup

Flying the flag: American fans provided a raucous atmosphere for the opening stages of the Cup

Outnumbered: Europe fans made their presence felt despite being heavily in the minority

Outnumbered: Europe fans made their presence felt despite being heavily in the minority

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1st hole jitters