Advantage USA at Medinah
It is advantage America going into the second day’s play at the 39th Ryder Cup after outscoring Europe 5-3 on Friday at Medinah Country Club.
There was nothing to separate the teams after the morning foursomes but it was allAmericain the fourballs as they won three of the four matches to seize control of the competition.
Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson made a blistering start to their fourball against Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie, birding seven of their first eight holes to take complete control.
While Hanson and Lawrie did not play badly, they were no match for an inspired pairing and it was only a matter of time before Watson and Simpson wrapped up victory.
Watson made put from eight feet on the sixth, seventh and eight to extend the lead of the Europeans before Lawrie’s five-foot putt on the 11th gave the visitors a glimmer of hope.
It wasn’t to last and on the 14th Watson had a two-putt from 45 feet for the win. He didn’t need it as he went close enough to force Hanson and Lawrie to concede defeat, going down 5&4.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson proved a solid partnership in the morning and it was no surprise to see them go out again.
Their good form continued as they went three up through three against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and it was a lead they would never lose, although the Northern Irish pair did manage to close it.
Bradley rolled in from ten feet on the first to set the ball rolling for the Americans and together with Mickelson they produced golf of the highest quality, finding putts from impossible positions to maintain their lead.
When Mickelson struck to within two feet on the 17th it was inevitable that McIlroy and McDowell would concede to put the Americans 4-2 up in the competition.
“Oh baby, I wish I could go 36 more,” said Bradley, who carded six birdies during the afternoon fourballs.
Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer also found themselves on the back foot early on and despite their best efforts they were never able to get back on level terms with Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.
Kaymer had struggled for form heading into the Ryder Cup and he will need a big confidence boost after another poor day on the greens.
It was left to Rose to carry the hopes ofEuropebut it proved too much against an American pairing who took a 3&2 win.
Nicolas Colsaerts was the only shining light forEuropeon an otherwise dismal afternoon for Jose Maria Olazabal’s team.
The rookie looked the veteran alongside Lee Westwood, making ten birdies to keepEuropein front of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, but his hard work was not enough as the Americans battled back to threaten a whitewash.
While Colsaerts was playing some exceptional golf, Westwood’s struggles continued and it was down to the Belgian to try to claim a vital point for the Europeans.
Woods kept American in the tie with a shape-shifting putt on the 16th, which sent the home crowd into raptures, but some more brilliant work from Colsaerts left the former world number one with a tricky enough putt to send the match down the 18th.
He did not miss and the fourball set off for the final hole. A tense few moments followed as Woods set up an opportunity to half the match but in front of a packed gallery his ball rolled beyond the hole to give Europe the victory.
The United States and Europe ended the foursomes tied at 2-2 after an up-and-down morning which saw both sides struggle at times.
McIlroy and McDowell were sent out first for Europe – McDowell had the honour of hitting the first ball of the competition – but it proved to be a nervy morning for theNorthern Irelandpair as they squandered a three hole lead.
With six holes remaining they were three up on Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker, but the Americans hit back in tremendous style, sending the match down the 18th.
McDowell was left with a five-foot putt for victory and the hero of 2010 held his nerve and they Europeans were left to breath a massive sigh of relief.
“That match to me just personifies the Ryder Cup,” the former US Open champion said.
“Myself and Rory played some great golf to go three up, and then you’re playing against two very gutsy players who clawed their way back to all square coming down the last two holes.
It was the Americans who got the first point on the board when Mickelson and Bradley came from behind to win four holes in a row before claiming a 4&3 victory.
Soon afterEurope’s win over Furyk and Snedeker, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson restored the home side’s lead with a 3&2 win over Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari.
Like their team-mates, Westwood and Molinari had taken the lead early on but they both struggled on the greens and bogeys on the 15th and 16th proved costly.
It came down to Ian Poulter and Rose to claimEurope’s second point of te morning when they defeated Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 2&1.
Woods in particular was not at his best as he struggled to find any sort of consistency – he even managed to hit a spectator on the seventh – but they found their way back into the match.
Fortunately, Rose held his nerve to seal the win and leave the sides level heading into the fourballs.
Surprisingly, Ian Poulter was not picked for the fourballs despite his good work in the morning, but it later transpired that he had been informed the day before that he would be rested for the second session on Friday.by: Michelle, September 28, 2012