Bradley paces U.S. to split in opening foursomes

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MEDINAH, Ill. – In his first Ryder Cup match, Keegan Bradley poured in putts from everywhere and helped the U.S. team earn an emphatic victory against one of Europe’s top teams.

That set the tone for an unlikely split in the opening foursomes Friday morning – the first since 1997.

After some early anxiety – snap hooks, plunked fans, big deficits – the U.S. team clawed back and will head in the afternoon tied, 2-2, with Europe. Having traditionally struggled in foursomes – since 2002, the U.S. has been outscored, 22 ½ to 15 ½, in the format – the Americans may feel as though they’ve won the first session.

Bradley and partner Phil Mickelson handed Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia their first-ever loss in foursomes, beating one of Europe’s best teams, 4 and 3, to put the first point on the board for the Americans. Prior to this week, that European duo had combined to go 14-0-1 in foursomes.

Said Bradley, “It was one of the most memorable days of my life.”

Cheers reverberated all throughout Medinah Country Club, and it seemed to inspire a few of the other groups – even in defeat.

U.S. captain Davis Love III surprised many – including some on the European side – when he sent out Jim Furyk and rookie Brandt Snedeker in the first group Friday. The move looked as though it would backfire badly, as one of Europe’s most dominant teams, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, recorded six birdies (with concessions) and seized a 3-up lead after 12 holes. But the Americans fought back, winning Nos. 13, 15 and 16 to pull all square.

On 18, Snedeker launched his tee shot way right, into the trees. Unable to play toward the green, the Americans eventually made bogey, losing the final hole and the match, 1 up.

“That match, to me, just personifies the Ryder Cup,” McDowell said.

Tiger Woods struggled throughout the opening session and suffered another team loss, falling to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, 2 and 1. Despite the morning struggles, Woods and Stricker will play together again in the afternoon, against Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts (1:50 p.m. ET).

Rookie Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson were 1 up on the 15th tee, and increased their advantage after Europe’s Lee Westwood rinsed his tee shot on the drivable par 4. The U.S. won that match, 3 and 2.

The afternoon session began at 1:05 p.m. ET.