They say winning the first point at the Ryder Cup is huge.
So when Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell took down Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker in opening foursomes play on Friday (1 Up), it gave Team USA a sickening feeling, the same sickening feeling the country experienced when Team Europe went on to win the 2010 Ryder Cup (14.5/28 points).
Then again, things changed significantly when it came to fourballs play.
The opening match was scintillating. It saw the Americans go 1 Up through the fourth hole, the Europeans jump ahead on the sixth hole and the Americans roar back to tie it up on the 16th hole after being down, 3 Up, through the 12th hole.
But with both countries tied going into the 18th hole, Furyk narrowly missed a 20-foot putt and McDowell sunk the putt for Team Europe to go up, 1-0.
Team USA did well to storm back after that, however, with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley dispatching Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia (4 & 3) and Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson knocking off Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari (3 & 2).
That brought us to the fourth and final foursomes match of the day, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker vs. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
This was an ugly ending to Friday's foursomes play for Team USA. Poulter and Rose took the lead for good on the fourth hole and never looked back until the end, leading by as much as 3 Up through the 14th hole. Team Europe ended up winning that match, 2 & 1.
At that point, it was 2-2.
|McIlroy/McDowell||Team Europe, 1 Up||Furyk/Snedeker|
|Donald/Garcia||Team USA, 4 & 3||Mickelson/Bradley|
|Westwood/Molinari||Team USA, 3 & 2||Dufner/Johnson|
|Poulter/Rose||Team Europe, 2 & 1||Stricker/Woods|
Then came fourballs play, which changed everything.
Bubba Watson (2012 Masters champion) and Webb Simpson (2012 U.S. Open champion) grabbed the lead right away on the first hole against Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson.
They never relinquished that lead, eventually winning, 5 & 4.
The second fourballs match pitted McIlroy and McDowell against Mickelson and Bradley.
Mickelson and Bradley showed the teamwork they displayed in foursomes play from the very first hole, going 1 Up after Bradley sunk his birdie putt and McDowell failed to match his birdie. They built their lead through the front nine, ultimately winning the match, 2 & 1.
Mickelson made some incredible shots in this match, including an iron shot from deep in the gallery over some trees onto the green at the 12th hole and a magnificent drive that hit the center of the green on the 17th that led to McIlroy and McDowell conceding.
Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar made it 3-of-3 for the Americans in fourball play on Friday, defeating Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer, 3 & 2.
Team USA took the lead on the fourth hole after Kuchar sunk his birdie. The Americans held the lead throughout, but the Europeans always stayed within range. That is, until Kuchar knocked in the match-winning putt on the 16th hole, completing a fantastic day for the 34-year-old. Kuchar scored all three 1 Ups for the Americans in this match.
Last but not least, we had Woods and Stricker battle with Westwood and Nick Colsaerts in the final fourball match.
The Americans held the lead through the first three holes, but the Europeans grabbed the lead on No. 9 on Colsaerts' fantastic 22-foot putt.
Colsaerts and Woods carried their respective teams on Friday. While Colsaerts racked up all four 1 Ups for the Europeans, Woods posted all three 1 Ups for the Americans, nailing a putt on the 16th and doing it all on the 17th.
But, in the end, Woods wasn't able to save the team after hitting the edge of the 18th hole with a putt that would have brought the Americans to a tie in the match.
What a thrilling day of Ryder Cup action.
|Lawrie/Hanson||Team USA, 5 & 4||Watson/Simpson|
|McIlroy/McDowell||Team USA, 2 & 1||Mickelson/Bradley|
|Rose/Kaymer||Team USA, 3 & 2||Johnson/Kuchar|
|Westwood/Colsaerts||Team Europe, 1 Up||Woods/Stricker|