Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

United States takes 5-3 lead over Europe in Day 1 of Ryder Cup

Phil Mickelson, left, and Keegan Bradley celebrate their four-ball win in the afternoon.

Getty Images

Phil Mickelson, left, and Keegan Bradley celebrate their four-ball win in the afternoon.

MEDINAH, Ill. — Keegan Bradley made Friday at the Ryder Cup feel like the best day of his life, and it wasn't too shabby for the rest of the Americans, either.

Bradley led a strong performance by rookies on both teams at Medinah Country Club by teaming with Phil Mickelson for two wins against Europe's best two partnerships. Even with Tiger Woods getting shut out on opening day for the fourth time, the United States took a big step toward regaining the Cup by taking a 5-3 lead.

Over the previous 20 Ryder Cups, teams that led by two or more points after two sessions went on to win two-thirds of the time (8-for-12).

Four of the five rookies on the U.S. team contributed. Only Brandt Snedeker, who opened the day as Jim Furyk's partner in the first alternate-shot match, came away empty-handed.

And without Nicholas Colsaerts' one-man show — he made eight birdies and an eagle on his own ball — the Europeans would have been shut out in the afternoon session.

"They're proven tour winners and FedEx Cup winners and guys that have played very, very well lately," U.S. captain Davis Love said of his group. "So we weren't considering them rookies, except in the Ryder Cup."

Mickelson and Bradley have known each other for six years. They met during a Mickelson family skiing trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., where Keegan's father, Mark, works as a ski instructor in the winter and golf pro in the summer. Last year the veteran took Bradley under his wing for a series of money games at the majors to prepare him for a stage like this.

And did Bradley, 26, deliver. He was into every shot, cocking his head to the side to read putts, and he charged up the gallery and Mickelson, 42, with fist pumps, cheer encouragements and hugs.

"This is literally what I've dreamed about since I was a little kid," Bradley said. "I got to do it next to my idol all day. … It could be the best day of my life."

Bradley holed a 25-foot birdie putt in morning foursomes to hand Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia their first loss in Ryder Cup foursomes. Next up were Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell for four-ball, and the Americans won the first three holes. Right when Europe was trying to rally, Mickelson closed it out with a 7-iron to 2 feet that was conceded for birdie.

He barely had time to react before Bradley was at his side, throwing an arm over his shoulder and howling with joy.

"It was a really big deal," Mickel­son said, "because he's got such great, positive energy."

Colsaerts helped Europe avoid getting shut out in four-balls by single-handedly taking down Woods and Steve Stricker. He made eight birdies and an eagle, 10-under 62 if he was keeping score on his own. He teamed with Lee Westwood, who was just along for the ride for a 1-up victory. "We ran into a guy who made everything (Friday)," Woods said.

Woods and Stricker also lost to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose in morning foursomes, making this the fourth time in the seven Ryder Cups in which Woods has played that he lost both matches on the opening day.

Mickelson set an American record by playing in his ninth Cup, and he won his opening two matches for the first time. But Bradley was the rock star of this day, maybe never more than in the morning on No. 15. When he spotted fans holding a large American flag on the left side of the gallery, he jogged over to them for high-fives, waited for Mickelson to play a wedge into the green and then holed a 25-foot birdie putt.

His caddie, Steve Hale, swung the flag stick around like a baton until Mickelson's caddie reminded him to put it in the hole for Donald to play a bunker shot.

"There's a simple reason why Keegan is perfect for the Ryder Cup," Mickelson said. "The more pressure the situation, the better he plays."

>>Fast facts

Ryder Cup

U.S. vs. Europe, Day 2, Medinah (Ill.) Country Club

TV: 8 a.m., ESPN

Today's format: Foursomes (alternate shot) in morning, four-ball (better ball) in afternoon

Weather: Sunny, mid 50s to low 70s, light wind

United States takes 5-3 lead over Europe in Day 1 of Ryder Cup 09/28/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 12:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois


    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  2. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?


    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.

  4. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?


    After an off day Thursday, the Rays remain at Tropicana Field for a three-game series against the AL East rival Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman, left, has posted the highest ERA of his career this season, while catcher Welington Castillo, center, has slumped recently.
  5. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.