A mid-day swing tweak helped Tiger Woods settle down after he spent the morning spraying the ball all over the place in Friday’s foursomes match. But the U.S. team’s best player still went 0-2 on the first day of the 39th Ryder Cup matches.
Woods said he spoke with his swing coach, Sean Foley, in the 30-minute break between his and Steve Stricker’s 2&1 loss to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose and a 1-up defeat to European Ryder Cup rookie sensation Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood in the p.m. session.
“Sean and I talked about my swing at basically halftime and made a few adjustments,” Woods told reporters after watching Colsaerts destroy him and Stricker with eight birdies and an eagle on his way to an incredible 9-under 63 on his own ball. “I really hit it well this afternoon, but we ran into a guy who made everything today.”
Colsaerts was not the only Ryder Cup debutant to shine in the opening act of the three-day tourney. Jason Dufner teamed with Zach Johnson for a 3&2 win over Westwood and Francesco Molinari, and Webb Simpson helped Bubba Watson rout Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie to the tune of 5&4.
But the star of the day was Keegan Bradley, who went 2-0 in his dream-team matchup with his mentor, Phil Mickelson. The duo stunned Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, 4&3, in the morning foursomes and came back to put away world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the afternoon.
Bradley, who has gushed often about his adoration of all things Phil, was like a kid on a baseball diamond, running between shots, chest-bumping Mickelson after particularly good shots, and even engaging in a bit of butt slapping. When the day was done, the native New Englander who has three PGA Tour wins, including one major, said he was ready to go again.
“Oh baby,” Bradley told ESPN after watching Mickelson stick the afternoon’s winning tee shot to within three feet on the par-3 17th, “I wish I could go 36 more.”
No doubt, he’ll have his chance Saturday, although U.S. captain Davis Love III wondered Friday night if Mickelson’s 42-year-old legs would be up to the task of another day of foursomes and four-balls. Lefty sure sounded as if he were as eager as Bradley for another go-round at Medinah.
“I just love playing with Keegan,” said Mickelson, who has guided Bradley almost every step of the way since the pride of Woodstock, Vt., hit the tour in 2011. “He’s just played so good all day and it’s just kept me up the whole time. It’s been awesome.”
For Bradley, who has enthused about so many “most memorable” moments in his first two years on tour (including throwing the first pitch at Fenway, tossing the coin at a Patriots game, and playing for the hometown folks at the Deutsche Bank Championship), teeing it up with Mickelson was almost more than he could stand.
“I just love every second of it. And being able to walk down the fairway with Phil and do this is a dream come true,” he said. “It’s another moment in my life that I can’t believe I’m a part of. It could be the best day of my life.”