Euro slump: Agony for Olazabal's men as USA team go on charge
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
What a day: Nicolas Colsaerts finished in remarkable fashion
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.
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
But the record books will lie.
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)
Way to putt: Bradley was on fire on the greens
Nicely done: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar celebrated winning their match in the fourballs
truth is that Colsaerts put in one of the most astonishing performances
these matches have seen to actually beat the combined efforts of his
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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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
tried his best to calm him but Bradley is a performer who thrives on
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.
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
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