Change has been a major theme all year in one of golf’s most thrilling seasons. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Americans dominated the afternoon four-ball matches on Friday at the Ryder Cup.
The U.S. and Europe split the morning foursomes, earning two points a piece. The Americans were led by the dynamic duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who handed the previously indomitable Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia their first loss in the alternate shot format (going into Friday, Donald-Garcia were a combined 14-0-1 in that format and as partners they were 4-0).
Meanwhile, Phil had never won two matches in one day. Until he met Keegan, that is.
In fact, Phil and Keegan routed Luke and Sergio 4&3. Based on their records, I predicted the opposite on Thursday evening. My apologies to Mark Bradley, who called me out when I ran into him on the course this afternoon — good to know you’re reading!) I have no problem admitting I was dead wrong, and obviously I’m glad I was. I actually questioned my prediction after speaking with one of the photographers who told me what great chemistry Keegan and Phil had on the golf course and how much fun they were having in the practice rounds.
The Ryder Cup and match play was made for Keegan, who made almost every putt he looked at in both sessions. Enough about the golf, their enthusiasm and celebrations were epic and went viral across the inter-webs. There were several ass-slaps and chest-bumps. Then, after Keegan drained a birdie putt to close out Donald and Garcia on 15, Bradley’s caddie Steven “Pepsi” Hale reacted by doing a helicopter twirl with the pin — it was so legendary that Deadspin featured the video.
Then in the afternoon four-ball match against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, Phil and Keegan repeated their magic, beating the Northern Ireland duo 2&1.
I walked and watched most of the match — until I dropped back after the 14th to catch Nicolas Colsaerts put on an absolutely phenomenal performance. Tiger called it “one of the greatest putting rounds I’ve ever seen.” Colsaerts drained putt after putt, and it wasn’t like they were 3-5 footers. He was knocking in 30-35 footers all day long from everywhere. The most special? The 30-footer on 17 for birdie. Tiger Woods had four feet and Colsaerts knew he had to make his putt.
That was probably the gutsiest shot of the day. Colsaerts ranked it as the best round of his career: “Under the circumstances, without a doubt. When you get to play on a stage like this and you show the world that you’ve got this, yeah, I mean, this has to be the best round I ever played in front of such a big stage and with everything about it, the 11 other guys I’m playing with, vital point, last game of the day, first day of Ryder Cup, my first yeah, has to be the best one.”
Colsaerts, who carded eight birdies and an eagle, carried Lee Westwood to a 1-up victory over Tiger and Steve Stricker. And it’s not like Tiger played poorly — he had seven birdies. Colsaerts, the only Ryder Cup debutant on the European team, was simply unbeatable on Friday afternoon. He won Europe’s only point to cap the dominant showing by the Americans, winning the three other matches.
For my musings throughout the day, check out my Twitter timeline compiled by Storify (start from the bottom).
Saturday morning foursome pairings:
Match 1 7:20AM: Webb Simpson/Bubba Watson vs. Justin Rose/Ian Poulter (this should be a good one)
Match 2 7:35AM: Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson vs. Lee Westwood/Luke Donald (Phil-Keegan should win with ease unless Lee finds his game)
Match 3 7:50AM: Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts/Sergio Garcia (Sergio looked flat, which was weird, since he’s Mr. Cheerleader at the RC, so let’s go with U.S. point)
Match 4 8:05AM: Jim Furyk/Brandt Snedeker vs. Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell (Flip a coin)
That’s all, folks. Now I know what everyone means when they say they’re nothing like the Ryder Cup. I’m spent. ‘Til tomorrow.
(Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird)