On a chilly Friday morning, amid an atmosphere that reminded me of a cross between an English Soccer match and a College football game, the 39th Ryder Cup got underway at Medinah Country Club. The Rookies for both teams stepped up their games while some of the seasoned veterans faded. Team USA rookie, Keegan Bradley, who was paired with Phil Mickelson, said it was the greatest day of his golf career. Even better than winning the 2011 PGA Championship.
The Bradley/Mickelson team beat Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia in the Foursomes competition 4&3 and handled the European powerhouse of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell 2 & 1 in the afternoon Fourballs match. The other morning win came from Jason Dufner and former Masters champ, Zach Johnson with a 2&1 win in a match against Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari.
The Morning session finished in a 2-2 tie, as Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker lost 2&1 to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. The Furyck/Snedeker team lost to the Irish pair of McIlroy and McDowell. Woods played so badly, Captain Davis Love III had considered benching him for the afternoon matches. Woods and Stricker lost again in the afternoon to Nicolas Colsearts and Lee Westwood. Love decided to give Tiger a break on Saturday morning, and benched him for the first time in Woods’ career.
Colsaerts, after setting out the morning session, came out in the Fourballs, and put on a putting clinic. The long hitting rookie carried Westwood to a 1 up win.
Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open Champion, and the current Masters Champ, Bubba Watson, who sat out the morning action, absolutely demolished Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson 5&4 in the afternoon match. Bubba was like a caged animal, as he came out in the afternoon banging long and straight drives, and rolling the rock in the hole with his putter.
Players Champ, Matt Kucher and Dustin Johnson, who also sat out the morning, beat Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer 3 &2. This gave Team USA a 5 to 3 overnight lead. If Tiger, who started show a little game in the afternoon, and Steve Stricker could have played a little better, Team USA could have pulled off a sweep on the afternoon.
I love this International Match Play format, and the folks in Chicago are giving Team Europe all they can handle. This is the only tournament that you actually hear people cheer when the other guys make a bad shot. Don’t get me wrong, there are a bunch of Europeans in the gallery, and our guys get their shtick, there are just more of us, than them. If Team USA doesn’t put the lead out of reach on Saturday, it should make for a great Sunday. Shoot, it should be a great Sunday anyway.
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