Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

USA on front foot at Medinah

USA's Keegan Bradley reacts after making a birdie putt on the eighth hole (AP)

Davis Love's two current major champions and a pumped-up Keegan Bradley more than made up for the struggles of Tiger Woods as the United States threatened to take a grip on the Ryder Cup in Chicago.

After the morning foursomes had been tied 2-2, Masters winner Bubba Watson - whipping up the crowd even before he hit a shot - and shock US Open winner Webb Simpson led a fourball charge.

On a Medinah course set up for low scoring they birdied eight of the first 10 holes to be six up on Scot Paul Lawrie and Swede Peter Hanson, like them omitted from the opening session.

Bradley then continued his earlier form to put himself and Phil Mickelson, with nine appearances in the match now America's most capped player in history, four up after eight holes against world number one Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. He had contributed four of their six birdies.

Behind them Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer trailed by two to Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar after six, but Woods - perhaps lucky not to be dropped for the first time after a defeat to Rose and Ian Poulter full of wild shots and missed putts - and Steve Stricker were level at the same point against Westwood and Belgian debutant Nicolas Colsaerts.

Earlier in the day McIlroy and McDowell hit back from a lengthy rules debate to win on the last green against Jim Furyk and last weekend's £7million man Brandt Snedeker.

But after Europe had led in all four games two hours into the eagerly-awaited clash, the Northern Irishmen's victory followed the first-ever foursomes defeat for both Luke Donald - playing in the city that has been his home for the last 15 years - and Sergio Garcia.

After six successive wins in the format for Donald and eight wins and a half for Garcia since he made his debut in 1999, they went down 4&3 to Mickelson and Bradley.

Westwood and Francesco Molinari were beaten 3&2 by Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner, another of American captain Love's rookies, but then Rose and Poulter won 2&1, Poulter producing a key putt on the 16th that was greeted by his now trademark "Come On" roar - and a long, cold stare from Woods.

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