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Sep 26, 2014 12:28 PM

American rookies lead the way at Gleneagles

The Associated Press

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) U.S. captain Tom Watson sent out his two youngest rookies against Europe's biggest threat in the Ryder Cup, and it was a short match.

The Americans barely broke a sweat.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed made an auspicious debut Friday in the Ryder Cup by running off five birdies in a six-hole stretch for a 5-and-4 victory in fourballs over Ian Poulter and Scottish favorite Stephen Gallacher.

They ended Poulter's seven-match winning streak.

"It was very, very quiet out there compared to what I think Patrick and I expected in the first round of a Ryder Cup over here," Spieth said. "And that's the goal. That's our team goal is just go out there and play and listen to it like's just Sunday with your buddies. That's kind of what it felt like."

The Americans got even more help from another rookie.

Jimmy Walker holed out twice to win holes and to keep him and Rickie Fowler in the match. And then it was Walker again on the 18th, holing a 4-foot birdie putt to earn an unlikely half-point against U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn.

Three rookies produced 1 points as the Americans wound up winning the opening session.

It might have been a risk for Watson to pair the 21-year-old Spieth and the 24-year-old Reed, especially in their first Ryder Cup on the road. The last time the Ryder Cup was away from home at Celtic Manor in Wales, Spieth was at Gleneagles as part of the Junior Ryder Cup team.

"When Tom told us were going out together, we were excited," Reed said. "I've played a lot of golf with Jordan, not only professionally but amateur and junior career. I was very comfortable playing with him. Besides the first tee shot, we felt pretty comfortable and confident."

And they went quiet on the first hole.

Poulter blasted out of a bunker to just inside 3 feet, the range where putts are conceded early in the match. Poulter had to putt this one, and the crowd gasped when it spun around and out of the lip for a bogey, giving the Americans the lead.

They never trailed.

Reed made most of the birdies, though Spieth often was in range to make it if Reed didn't. They were a good fit. And they were too much for Gallacher, who showed plenty of nerves in front of a home crowd in his first Ryder Cup, and Poulter, who couldn't make enough putts.

It was the biggest loss for Poulter in 16 matches.

"They're two great players. They're two excitable players," Poulter said. "When you're playing against guys who are rolling putts in, then you're going to be hard to beat, and that's exactly what they did very well today."

Walker and Fowler went back out for foursomes in the afternoon. Reed and Spieth did not, the only disappointment of the day. Both pleaded their case and accepted their roles as cheerleaders for the afternoon.

But they were surprised.

Spieth said he was "100 percent certain" they were going out for the afternoon because Watson had said the afternoon lineup would depend on morning play. Watson also sent out Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who beat Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia and became the first American tandem to start 4-0.

"I felt like Jordan was hitting the ball really solid and making a lot of putts, and I was hitting it well and I was putting extremely well," Reed said. "I felt like in alternate-shot, him and I would have been great to go back out and take the momentum of what we just had done. But at the end of the day, Captain Watson, he picks pairings for a reason. He decides to put you in certain spots for a reason."


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