by Jeff Skinner
It was an amazing day of golf at the 2012 Ryder Cup as the American Team rode the backs of its “rookies” to a 5-3 lead at the end of day one. It is a disservice to call the four first timers rookies as their resume would intimidate any opponent.
Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker combined for three full points for the day.
Former PGA champion Bradley paired with his good buddy and mentor Phil Mickelson to earn two full points on the day. And his enthusiasm got Phil’s game going as the two took down the European’s most heralded teams. They dispatched previously undefeated Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia in alternate shot and then defeated their powerhouse team of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
U.S. Open Champion Simpson teamed up with his close friend Masters champ Bubba Watson to win their fourball match in a runaway 5&4 over an overmatched Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson. Bubba and Webb stoked the crowd as they stiffed shot after shot and rolled in birdie after birdie.
Dufner paired with Zach Johnson to take down the formidable team of Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari 3&2 in the morning session. The Americans battled back from being one down almost the entire front nine and clinched the win with consecutive wins at the fifteenth and sixteenth.
Brandt Snedeker was the only rookie that failed to earn a point as he and partner Jim Furyk made a valiant effort against Europe’s flagship pairing of McDowell and McIlroy. The Americans battled back from three down to push the match to the final hole before they lost the match one up.
Following their rookies lead, the veteran team of Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar defeated Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer in the afternoon fourballs. Rose was essentially by himself as Kaymer’s game is still off form.
The most disappointing team for the Americans was Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker who lost both their matches. Continuing his poor play in alternate shot Woods had trouble finding fairways. The Americans never led against Ian Poulter and Justin Rose and went down 2&1.
But it was a different story in the afternoon fourballs as Woods and Stricker were obviously more comfortable playing their own ball and were able to record nine birdies through their round. Unfortunately, they were witness to one of the most amazing rounds of golf in Ryder Cup history. The lone rookie on the European team, Nicolas Cosaerts carded an astounding eight birdies and an eagle, on his own card to singlehandedly down the Americans one up. Cosaerts is one of the longest players in the game but the 35th ranked player in the world displayed a putting stroke that kept Woods and Stricker from completing their late round charge.
The shot of the day has to be Phil Mickelson’s wood from behind the gallery and in the woods to about twelve feet from the hole. Of course he missed the putt as Phil always does.
The team of the day is certainly Mickelson and Bradley as the mixture of youthful energy and old hand moxy has given the Americans a new powerhouse team. Their defeat of McIlroy and McDowell could very well be the turning point for the American team.
The player of the day without a doubt was Colsaerts. He singlehandedly took down Woods and Stricker as he seemingly made every putt he looked at. Maybe the Europeans have found their new stud.