Fired-up Bradley gets Mickelson rolling

U.S. golfers Phil Mickelson (2nd R) and Keegan Bradley (L) shake hands with Team Europe golfers...

U.S. golfers Phil Mickelson (2nd R) and Keegan Bradley (L) shake hands with Team Europe golfers Rory McIlroy (R) and Graeme McDowell (2nd L) after defeating them on the 17th green during the afternoon four-ball round at the 39th Ryder Cup matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 28, 2012. (REUTERS)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

CHICAGO - Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley left the European side seeing red Friday at the Ryder Cup.

First, the dynamic duo handed Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia the first loss in each of their Ryder Cup careers in the alternate-shot format. Then, Mickelson and the boundlessly energetic Bradley took down World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in afternoon four-ball 2-and-1, never trailing in the match.

This is now the go-to pairing for the U.S., captain Davis Love III unlikely to tamper with their "mojo," a term Mickelson used earlier this week, albeit in a table-tennis context.

The exuberance of Bradley, the 26-year-old Ryder Cup rookie, seemed to ignite something in the 42-year-old Mickelson and the pair earned a full two points to stake their team to a 5-3 lead after Day 1 at Medinah Country Club.

"Oh, baby, I wish I could go 36 more (holes)," an amped-up Bradley said following the afternoon session.

The Americans wish he could have kept going as well.

Friends long before the Ryder Cup, the pairing this week never was in question. Mickelson and Bradley share a mutual admiration, and Friday they fed off each other.

Bradley's putter was on fire all day, closing out Donald and Garcia with a 30-footer and, not to be outdone, Mickelson closed out the afternoon match with a brilliant tee shot to kick-in range on the par-3 17th after McIlroy had put it to about 10 feet.

-That baby was all over the flag stick," Mickelson said of the shot that forced the Euro pair to concede. "I was really glad to see it come down the right yardage."

His partner was dumbstruck.

"That was the best shot I've ever seen in my entire life," Bradley said.

McIlroy, with whom McDowell picked up a point for Europe in the morning session, said the American duo was just too much in the afternoon.

"We were trying to claw our way back and we played some good golf on the way in, but Keegan and Phil were just too strong."

And, he had to hand it to Mickelson for his shot on 17.

"It was a fantastic shot," he said. "We thought a couple of birdies the last two holes, we might pull off a halve, but Phil was obviously thinking otherwise."

Mickelson also hit an super shot on the 12, putting it to about 10 feet after being in the trees, but he failed to convert.

The four-time major winner has been a mentor to the youngster from Vermont, who also is honing skills as a big-game player and collected his first major last year at the PGA Championship.

But Friday it was Bradley's youthful enthusiasm that got the U.S. and Mickelson going.

"We were just so ready to get on the first tee and you could see in the morning (Bradley) was just really fired up," Mickelson said.

"He played some of the best golf and to be his partner was an awesome experience. I love, I love playing with this man. He's just so fun, loves the game and plays with such excitement and, man, can he roll the rock."

Friday afternoon's win marked Mickelson's 36th career Ryder Cup match, now just one back of American record-holder Billy Casper.

Mickelson knows how big that Friday performance was.

"This is one of the most emotional days playing in a Ryder Cup that we'll ever have," Mickelson said, not a light statement for someone playing his ninth and about someone playing his first. "It has been awesome."

Total points

U.S. 5, Europe 3

Morning Alternate-shot Foursomes

1. Europe wins 1-up

Europe: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

U.S.: Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

2. U.S. wins 4 and 3

Europe: Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia

U.S.: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley

3. U.S. wins 3 and 2

Europe: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari

U.S.: Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson

4. Europe wins 2 and 1

Europe: Ian Poulter and Justin Rose

U.S.: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods

Sat out

Europe: Peter Hanson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer

U.S.: Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson

Afternoon Four-ball

1. U.S. wins 5 and 4

Europe: Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson

U.S.: Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

2. U.S. Wins 2 and 1

Europe: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

U.S.: Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley

3. U.S. wins 3 and 2

Europe: Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer

U.S.: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar

4. Europe wins 1-up

Europe: Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts

U.S.: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker

Sat out:

Europe: Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald

U.S.: Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson

Saturday pairings

Saturday

Foursomes

(All times EST)

8:20 a.m.

Europe: Justin Rose and Ian Poulter

U.S.: Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson

8:35 a.m.

Europe: Lee Westwood and Luke Donald

U.S.: Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson

8:50 a.m.

Europe: Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia

U.S.: Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson

9:05 a.m.

Europe: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

U.S.: Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

Sitting:

Europe: Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari

U.S.: Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson

 

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca


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