Medinah Country Club, Chicago, IL—Phil Mickelson, who has fought his game since winning earlier in the year, paired with Keegan Bradley to win their foursomes and fourball matches in Day 1 of the 39th Ryder Cup. They took down the steady stalwarts of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia 4 and 3 in the morning foursomes and then ruined the afternoon of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy 2 and 1.
“I feel very comfortable out here with Phil because I know wherever I hit it, he’s going to be able to get up and down,” Bradley said after his foursome match.
“I felt young and it felt great. I love playing with Keegan,” Mickelson said after closing out his afternoon match. “His energy is so positive, it’s so good.”
“We played solid. They just played a little better,” Luke Donald said about the morning match. “Only really gave them one hole, on 12, and otherwise, they made some great birdies.”
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, who sat out the morning session, exploded in their match, dominating Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson 5 and 4.
“The train left on the front nine,” Hanson said about playing Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson in fourball. “When someone is 9-under through 10, you’re going to battle to win that match.” Actually, Watson and Simpson were eight under through 10 holes. It must have seemed like nine under.
“This was my first Ryder Cup, and I was scared to death,” Simpson said, saying his faith got him through it. “It was a great day, I mean, my first day as a Ryder Cup team member, I couldn't ask for anything more.”
“What this means to me and the United States flag, and my dad not being here, it’s just wild,” Watson commented. “If we would have lost today, we are still playing in the Ryder Cup.”
Watson said the key for him was just having fun and that his goal was to make sure Webb Simpson was relaxed.
Both Watson and Simpson, although they said they wanted to play in the morning, were fine with sitting.
“Nobody wants to sit,” Watson said. “You have to do what the captain says.”
“Bubba and I talked last night—let’s get some rest, let’s sleep in a little bit and come out and cheer the guys on,” Simpson added. He felt they came out more rested and ready to go.
Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner were also on the winning side in the morning, defeating Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari. Dufner said he was not at all nervous over his first Ryder Cup shot. They sat out in the afternoon.
“It was a nice way to start my first Ryder cup, to be the guy to tee off on that first hole, hear the crowd being behind us, and get the matches started,” Dufner said. I felt very comfortable. I like this atmosphere. I like this environment. I like to be able to showcase my talents, the team’s talents.” He also said not having to post a score was an advantage mentally.
After Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker lost their morning fourball match, some were questioning captain Davis Love III’s decision to send them out in the afternoon.
But Ian Poulter, who defeated Woods and Stricker in foursomes along with partner Justin Rose, did not subscribe to that thinking.
“He’s Tiger Woods. He’s the guy they get out there fired up,” Poulter said. “It’s a brave captain to leave him out.”
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.