After a 2 to 2 tie in the morning matches, Team USA grabbed the early lead in the fourballs competition in the afternoon, leading in three of four matches and the final match of the day all square through 5 holes Friday at Medinah Country Club.
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Two American players who sat out the morning competition, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, were 6Up through 8 holes, and the team of Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley was 3Up through 7 holes and looking to earn their second point of the day.
"He played some of the best golf and to be his partner was an awesome experience," Mickelson said. "I love, love playing with this man. He's just so fun, loves the game and plays with such excitement. And man, can he roll the rock."
Bradley rolled in 4 birdie puts in the morning, including a 15-footer to clinch the match against Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.
Here's a closer look at how the morning foursome matches unfolded:
Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
Result: Europe wins 1 up
Recap: After 12 holes, the Euros held a 3-up lead. It was all over. Until … Furyk drained a 6-footer on 13 (now it's 2-up), McDowell drove into the water on 15 (1-up!) and Furyk hit a gorgeous shot on 16 to 4 feet (all square!!). Unfortunately for the U.S., Snedeker botched his drive on 18, Furyk's 30-foot par putt slid by the hole and McDowell buried his 5-footer to claim the match.
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley vs. Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia
Result: U.S. wins 4 and 3
Recap: Leading 1-up, Bradley implored his tee shot on the 249-yard 13th hole to "go, go!" It did and settled to 15 feet, leading to a birdie and a 2-up advantage. Bradley then closed out the match with a 30-foot birdie on 15 to send Donald (6-1-0) and Garcia (8-1-1) to their first-ever loss in fourballs.
Bradley: "It was one of the most memorable days of my life so far."
Mickelson: "He played some of the best golf and to be his partner was an awesome experience. I love, love playing with this man."
Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson vs. Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari
Result: U.S. wins 3 and 2
Recap: The Americans never led until Dufner buried a birdie putt on No. 10. It stayed 1 up in favor of the U.S. until Westwood's drive on 15 sailed into the water. Dufner and Johnson carded a birdie, then closed the match out with a par on 16.
Dufner: "I really like this format, this environment. For me I feel like there's a little bit less pressure. I'm not trying to post a score, I'm just trying to play golf and enjoy the day and be with a teammate and try to get a point for the team."
Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods vs. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose
Result: Europe wins 2 up
Recap: Things got off to an ominous start when Woods yanked his opening drive and Stricker kerplunked his tee shot on No. 2 into the water. Woods couldn't find his swing in this match and despite a birdie on 15 to trim the deficit to 2 up, Poulter staved off any potential momentum with a huge 15-foot par putt on 16, essentially ending the match. With the loss, Woods fell to 3-9-0 on Day 1 in the Ryder Cup.
Here are the pairings for the afternoon matches (Fourballs):
• Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson of Team USA vs. Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson
• Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley of Team USA vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
• Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar of Team USA vs. Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer
• Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker of Team USA vs. Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood