WOW! What a performance by the Americans this afternoon! Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson roared out of the gate with seven birdies on the first eight holes en route to routing Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson. Keegan Bradley kept us his phenomenal play and Phil Mickelson played superbly as well, to beat the formidable pair of McIlroy/McDowell. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar were solid throughout in beating Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer. And the Woods/Stricker match against Westwood and Nic Colsaerts was one for the ages. Through 17 holes, Woods and Stricker were an absolutely splendid nine-under as a team for the round — and yet they trailed by one, because Colsaerts had putted like a maniac to post eight birdies and an eagle on his own ball. Amazingly, Colsaerts also lipped out twice, without which he would have been threatening a 60 on his own ball. At Medinah! Abso-friggin-lutely unbelievable stuff for a guy in his very first Ryder Cup match in his life. I wrote at noon that Colsaerts was capable of incredibly streaks, good and bad — and wow, did he prove the first! Without Lee Westwood helping much at all, all afternoon, Colsaerts alone was leading two of the world’s best players, in tandem, both of whom were playing excellent golf. Words fail to describe how good he was.
Now, a hat tip to Woods, who in the morning played one of his worst rounds ever. In the afternoon round, he showed what has long made him a champion. After opening with a birdie to erase the morning’s stench immediately, he also birdied 5 on the front side. Then, on the back, amazing stuff: He birdied 10, birdied 11, birdied 14, barely missed birdie at 15, birdied 16, birdied 17, and then striped two straight shots on 18 to give himself a chance to birdie yet again and at grab another half point for tye U.S.A. despite the heroics of Colsaerts. His 16-foot putt broke left just as it reached the hole, caught the edge of the left side of the hole… but didn’t fall. So Woods and Stricker get a second loss on their card, which makes it look like they played badly, But Stricker played okay in both rounds, and Woods redeemed an awful morning round. No disgrace at all.
So the Americans end the first day not behind, as they so often are in these matches, but instead ahead 5-3 — a very significant edge.