|Team Europe golfer Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland hugs teammate and compatriot Rory McIlroy after them won their match against U.S. golfers Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker on the on the 18th green during the morning foursomes round at the 39th Ryder Cup matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)
CHICAGO - The gloves came off Friday at the Ryder Cup but there hasn't been a knockout punch yet.
The Americans struck first with fired-up Keegan Bradley and partner Phil Mickelson closing out Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia 4 and 3 in the second match.
After that the U.S. won another — Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, 3 and 2 over Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari — while Europeans Ian Poulter and Justin Rose took advantage of an awful effort put in by Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker’s partner.
Rounding out the scorecards was World no. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell of Europe clinging on to win 1 up over Brandt Snedeker and Jim Furyk.
The Ryder Cup lived up to its drama, starting on the second hole. The game got contentious when McIlroy's second shot came to rest near a sprinkler head and partner McDowell asked for relief.
Furyk wasn't having it.
"I would ask just like you are, but I just think it's my job playing against you (to question it)," he said. "I don't think (relief) is 50/50, it's 20/80"
The officials agreed and McDowell wasn't allowed relief, leading to a 1-up lead, but it seemed to light a fire under Euro’s top squad.
McIlroy and McDowell went on a tear with four consecutive birdies to take a 1-up lead and then getting it all the way to 3-up before Furyk's experience took over.
Highlighted by a gutsy move to go for the green on the short par-4 15th, Furyk and rookie partner Brandt Snedeker squared it up going into 18, where Snedeker's pull opened the door for the pair from Northern Ireland.
"That match to me just personifies The Ryder Cup," McDowell said. "Myself and Rory played some great golf to go 3-up, and then you're playing against two very gutsy players who clawed their way back to all-square coming down the last two holes."
For the Americans’ first win, Bradley was all-smiles after his heroics with the putter.
"It was one of the most memorable days of my life so far," Bradley said.
Another rookie stood tall for the Americans, albeit in a far less flashy way.
Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson waited out Westwood and Francesco Molinari, who led for most of the front nine, to take a 3-up victory.
"You've just got to stick to your routine, stick to your process," Johnson said. "The difficult thing for me out there is keeping (Dufner) nice and calm," he added, poking fun of his even-keeled teammate.
Woods has knocked two fans out cold in the past two days and on Friday left teammate Stricker in the trees as he sprayed the ball all over the course. Poulter and Rose took advantage.
Overall, the Ryder Cup was tied 2-2 heading into the afternoon fourball — which will see Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson taking on Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie, Mickelson and Bradley against McIlroy and McDowell, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar against Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer, and, to some surprise, Woods and Stricker against Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts.