Advantage America: US seize the initiative as Bubba leads fourballs onslaught

Olazabal regrets resting Poulter but rookie Colsaerts holds his nerve against Woods

Medinah

Imagine playing Barcelona with three Lionel Messis. That's what Europe's golfers faced on an afternoon of withering precision from the United States. Keegan Bradley dazzled all day, smashing the unbeaten foursomes record of Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald in the morning and the pride of European golf in the afternoon. Yes Rory McIlroy, too, had no answer. Bradley's partner, Phil Mickelson, was little more than an observer with a privileged view.

Bradley was matched in the fourball detonation zone by Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, who left Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson in need of oxygen by the turn, already six down. Lawrie's birdie at the 11th was the first hole claimed, but by then it was about limiting the embarrassment. The morning foursomes, which ended all square, were not without pointers. If only Europe's Jose-Maria Olazabal were flexible enough to respond to the obvious. He had made his selections on Thursday afternoon and was sticking by them. As a result, Ian Poulter, who alongside Justin Rose had accounted for Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the morning, was asked to sit out the afternoon. The decision looked poor. With hindsight it appeared even more suspect.

Poulter was a belligerent presence, offering the kind of bloody defiance that is required when the roof is caving in. "I would have loved to have played five matches but I realise that we are a team and Ollie wanted to get everybody playing Friday. Four guys have to change from the morning round. He said to me he wanted to keep me fresh going through Saturday and Sunday."

Very generous of you, Ian. McIlory and Graeme McDowell, winners at the last hole in the morning against Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker, lost each of the first three holes in the fourballs. Though they contained Bradley of sorts thereafter, they could not rein him in. Rose and the underperforming Martin Kaymer were systematically shredded on the front nine by Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson, falling three behind after eight holes. Thank mercy for rookies. The long-striding, heavy-hitting Nicolas Colsaerts, making his Ryder Cup debut with a subdued Lee Westwood in the penultimate match of the day against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, walked through the storm unabashed.

Of the many highlights, his demolition of the par-five 10th, rolling his ball to within seven feet of the pin in two mighty swipes, was arguably the pick. The eagle putt dropped to take him seven under par for his round. Rookie heaven by any measure. Another birdie from 25 feet at the 13th restored Europe's two-hole advantage, which, with four holes to play, had shrunk to one. By then Bradley and Mickelson had secured a fourth point for the Americans. With Kuchar and Johnson, two up with five to play, well placed to make that five, Olazabal needed to dip into the Agincourt speech box overnight to restore some kind of order.

You would not be inviting ridicule to imagine that Donald and Garcia, despite their foursomes drubbing, and Poulter, will be busy boys today. Westwood and Kaymer, perhaps, less so. The atmosphere will not be any calmer. The first tee box on the Friday morning of the Ryder Cup has become one of the great set-pieces across the sporting cannon. Unlike the scripted hoopla of the opening ceremony this pageant needs no enhancement, nor indeed any contribution from PGA of America ambassador Justin Timberlake. Chicago's first athlete, Michael Jordan, was there yet that is both desired and allowed.

The job of tee box cheerleader fell to America vice-captain Freddie Couples, who whipped up the partisan crowd with oversized hand gestures followed by a hearty back slap for the American team as they stepped into the arena, led by Furyk in a beanie hat. It was McDowell who brought the crowd to order having accepted the honour on behalf of Europe. Enveloped by a sudden, heavy silence McDowell addressed his ball. This was it, the first tee shot of the Ryder Cup. Like that awkward frisson on a first date when lips come together, it was perhaps something just to get out of the way. You guessed it. McDowell missed the target left.

The faux camaraderie that characterised the build-up lasted all of one hole. At the second Furyk challenged the request for a drop after McIlroy's tee shot at the par-three had come to rest adjacent to a sprinkler head. McDowell, not unreasonably, felt the sprinkler was intruding and asked for a ruling.

Furyk weighed in with his disapproval. "I've known you guys a lot of years and that is not drop," he said. He was right in the end but veracity was not by then the issue. It was about control, about bossing the scene, about testing the mettle of Europe's lead pairing. It worked. McIlroy eventually missed his putt from six feet to unleash an early chorus of "USA, USA."

And thus began the first momentum swing of a thrilling morning. Olazabal was brazen in front loading the day, sending out his big dogs early to rack up the points. His American counterpart Davis Love III raised eyebrows leaving two major winners, Watson and Simpson, and the Players champion, Kuchar, to idle away the morning, and when Europe established an early lead in all four matches the American strategy appeared compromised. McIlroy and McDowell recovered the loss of the second hole at the fourth before motoring into a commanding position with a run of five birdies in six holes to lead by three with six to play.

But this would not be the Ryder Cup without the other guy climbing off the deck. When Furyk fired his hybrid at the 16th pin coming to rest within four feet of the flag, the putt left to Snedeker was to bring the match all square. Behind them Bradley was sinking a 40-footer on the 15th to seal a four and three victory and take the first point of the match for the United States. Jason Duffner continued the theme, knocking in a three-footer on the 16th to see of Westwood and Francesco Molinari. Europe needed a break and got one when Snedeker sprayed his tee shot at the last. McIlroy splashed out of a greenside bunker to leave McDowell a five-footer to claim Europe's first point of the contest.

Opening day scoreboard: USA 5-3 Europe

Foursomes

Mickelson/Bradley bt Donald/Garcia 4&3

Furyk/Snedeker lost to McIlroy/McDowell 1 UP

Dufner/Z Johnson bt Westwood/Molinari 3&2

Woods/Stricker lost to Poulter/Rose 2&1

Fourballs

Watson/Simpson bt Lawrie/Hanson 5&4

Mickelson/Bradley bt McIlroy/McDowell 2&1

Woods/Stricker lost to Westwood/Colsaerts 1 up

D Johnson/Kuchar bt Rose/Kaymer 3&2

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little