Sep 26, 2014 7:25 AM
Europe grabs 1st point in Ryder Cup fourballs
The Associated Press
GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) Europe secured the first point of the 40th Ryder Cup when Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 5 and 4 in the opening fourballs on Friday.
But the American rookie pairing of Justin Spieth and Patrick Reed looked set to even the contest, leading by 5 shots after 12 holes against Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher.
Rose and Stenson grabbed the lead of the opening match on the second hole and pulled away, with Rose making a 15-foot birdie putt at the 10th to go up by four. He closed out the match at the 14th with another birdie.
"We have never played together in a team match so to get off to such a great start and build some momentum is fantastic," said Rose, who was stung by a wasp on the thumb at the ninth hole.
Watson and Simpson, who won their last two fourballs matches together, failed to birdie in bright but windy conditions.
Europe was also ahead in the second match, with Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer up by two against Rickie Fowler and rookie Jimmy Walker. Walker, the third American rookie in action in the opening session, holed a bunker shot for an eagle at the 9th.
In the highly anticipated fourth match, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were 1 up on Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia after 12.
Garcia produced a magical shot at the fourth, holing from a greenside bunker from a terrible lie. He chipped to the top of the ridge and the ball rolled down the slope into the hole.
But the most commanding performance of the morning was coming from 21-year-old Spieth and 24-year-old Reed the youngest pairing in Ryder Cup history. U.S. captain Tom Watson's decision to pair the rookies was paying off in a huge way.
The day began amid a raucous soccer-style atmosphere, with Simpson badly mishitting the opening tee shot.
The veteran course announcer, Ivor Robson, even slipped up, mistakenly introducing Simpson as Bubba Watson, his partner.
Seconds later, Simpson got under the ball and hit a three-wood high into the air. The shot traveled about 190 yards, barely reaching the fairway.
Then Watson tried to rile up the crowd, cupping his hand to his ear and waving to encourage more noise from the heavily outnumbered U.S. fans. With cheers ringing out, he hit his drive into the left rough.
Rose and Stenson hit the fairway with their drives. Watson and Rose both made par to halve the opening hole of the three-day competition on the PGA Centenary course.
There were boisterous scenes of singing and chanting from the crowd, including "10-6 and you still can't win." That was a reference to the American team's collapse in Medinah.
The entrance to the first tee was full of drama.
Players walked through a tunnel painted American red on side and European blue on the other. They emerged to huge cheers from flag-waving fans in the U-shaped grandstand, with the sun peeking out from behind the hills on a glorious morning of blue skies.
Tom Watson and European captain Paul McGinley both received standing ovations.
McGinley left out two of his rookies: Victor Dubuisson of France and Jamie Donaldson of Wales. Also sitting out were Lee Westwood, who has been in every Ryder Cup since 1997, and Graeme McDowell.
Absent from the opening pairs for the Americans were Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson.