Despite some shaky driving from former major champions in the Ryder Cup’s first-tee amphitheater, both the United States and Europe managed to par Medinah’s opening hole as golf’s trans-Atlantic showdown got underway.
With chants of “U-S-A!” and Europe’s singsong “Olé, olé, olé, olé,” still echoing through the trees, Graeme McDowell had the honor of hitting the opening shot in this morning’s alternate-shot format.
But with partner Rory McIlroy looking on, McDowell’s drive took a hard left turn, coming to rest near a boundary fence.
Jim Furyk, teamed with FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker, didn’t do much better for the Americans. His drive also curled left into the gallery, stopping between two small trees.
Fortunately for both men, their teammates extricated them from trouble at the short par-4, and the hole was halved.
Snedeker is one of three U.S. Ryder Cup rookies sent out by captain Davis Love III for the opening session, with Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner set to follow.
Bradley will pair with Phil Mickelson against the European juggernaut of Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, which is 4-0 as a team in foursomes. Dufner and Zach Johnson go out in Match 3 against Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari.
“They may be rookies here at the Ryder Cup,” Love said early in the week, “but they’re major championship winners, they’re FedEx Cup winners, they’re veterans that are playing in their first Ryder Cup.”
Bradley, 26, has won three times in his two PGA Tour seasons, including last year’s PGA Championship. Dufner, 35, won twice this season and was runner-up to Bradley at last year’s PGA.
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were given the Americans’ anchor spot, set to face Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. Woods/Stricker has gone 6-2 in two Presidents Cups and the last Ryder Cup in Wales.
“We’ve had some pretty good success over the years,” Woods said, “and we both have been playing well. Our captain said that would be a good fit, and he wanted us out there to anchor.”
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