USA lead Europe 5-3 after the opening day of the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Illinois.
After the first session of foursomes ended finely poised at 2-2, the Americans went on a charge in the afternoon, winning the fourballs 3-1 in a dominant display in front of the partisan Chicago crowd.
The opening morning showcased just how closely fought and unpredictable Ryder Cup competition can be, with the pendulum swinging back and forth between the two teams almost hole by hole in the first set of foursomes games.
Europe took the early advantage, leading all the games at one stage, but the American’s fought back and turned the score round as the matches headed down the back nine.
The Americans put the first point on the scoreboard in the second game of the day, Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson v Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald. The match was close fought over the front nine but the American’s stormed away on the back nine, with a superb putt from Bradley on the 15th sealing an emphatic 4&3 win, Donald and Garcia’s first ever defeat together in a Ryder Cup foursomes.
Europe brought it back level as the opening game came to a close, with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell securing a narrow win over Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker one up on the final hole. The Northern Irishmen raced into a three point lead over the opening eleven holes, but as they faltered, the American’s brought it back level with two to play, before McDowell sunk a decisive putt on the 18th to win the point for Europe.
Minutes later the American’s were back ahead on the leaderboard, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson coming out on top in a tight game with Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari 3&2, but the scores were back level after a dominant performance from Ian Poulter and Justin Rose in the final game, the Englishmen triumphing 2&1 over Steve Stricker and a wayward Tiger Woods.
Before the final foursomes game was over, the opening fourball game had teed off and the American’s continued their momentum in the early stages. Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson raced into a three point lead after four against Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson,
while Mickelson/Bradley continued their great partnership to go three up through three against McIlroy/McDowell.
The in-form partnership of Watson and Simpson, both Major winners in 2012, went on to secure a comfortable 5&4 win over their hapless European opponents, but it wasn’t as plain sailing for Mickelson and Bradley.
They held a four point lead at the turn, but a dogged fight-back from the two Macs saw them close the gap to two points. They couldn’t quite finish the comeback though, with Mickelson and Bradley taking their second point of the day 2&1.
The American’s made it three points in a row as the final match came to a close, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar recording a 3&2 win over Rose and an out of confidence Martin Kaymer. The Europeans did manage to stop it being a USA whitewash though, with a sensational performance from Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts helping himself and Westwood inflict a second defeat of the day on Woods and Stricker one up, despite a late charge from Woods.
The day’s results means that Davis Love III will be much the happier team captain heading into day two, with Jose Maria Ollazabal left to make some big decisions over his team selection for what will be a crucial day if Europe are to defend their crown.
Simon Paice – Head of News