Ryder Cup 2012 Schedule: Golfers Who Will Be Difference Makers for the US

Ryan DavenportContributor ISeptember 29, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Keegan Bradley of the USA putts on the 15th green during the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The first day of the 2012 Ryder Cup played out like a dream for the U.S. 

In fact, as Keegan Bradley told the New York Daily News, it was "literally what I've dreamt about since I was a little kid."

In what was an uncharacteristically successful outing for the American squad, a number of unsung heroes took center stage and helped the host team take a 5-3 lead heading into Saturday.

Was it a sign of things to come?

That will likely depend on the play of a handful of American golfers, because there were a few members of the American team—who've lost four of the last five Ryder Cup tournaments—that exceeded expectations during the first day of play.

Here are the Americans who will need to be at their best if the U.S. hopes to capture only its second Ryder Cup victory since 2002.

Keegan Bradley

As the feel-good story of the first two sessions of the 2012 Ryder Cup, Bradley was arguably the most valuable member of the American team on Friday.

Paired with Phil Mickelson, during the morning session, Bradley sunk a 25-foot putt on No. 15 to clinch a point for the Americans against a difficult pairing of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.

In the afternoon, Bradley and his "idol" teamed up to defeat another impressive duo in Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, and unless team captain Davis Love III thinks he knows something we don't, Mickelson and Bradley should be playing alongside one another for both of today's sessions.

When asked about how he felt for the rest of the tournament, Bradley was itching to get back on the course, saying, "Oh, baby, I wish we could go 36 more." (per the Daily News)

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

After being passed over for the morning session, fan favorite Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson earned a point for the American side Friday afternoon, as the pair beat Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson in four-ball play.

Watson and Simpson were exceptional early, as they birdied seven of their first eight holes, and Watson was urging the American supporters to make their presence heard all afternoon.

If the U.S. are going to upset the Europeans, they'll need more standout performances from the morning session's forgotten pairing, because they made an impact on Friday.