Bradley led a strong performance by rookies on both teams at Medinah by teaming with Phil Mickelson for two wins against Europe’s best two partnerships. Even with Tiger Woods getting shut out on opening day for the fourth time, the United States took a big step toward regaining the cup by taking a 5-3 lead.
Leading the way was Bradley, the former PGA champion whom Mickelson took under his wing last year for a series of money games at the majors to prepare the New England kid for moments like this. And did he ever deliver.
“This is literally what I’ve dreamt about since I was a little kid,” Bradley said. “I got to do it next to my idol all day.”
Bradley holed a 25-foot birdie putt in morning foursomes to hand Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia their first loss ever in Ryder Cup foursomes.
Next up were Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, and the Americans won the first three holes.
Mickelson wasn’t there only for support. Right when Europe was trying to rally, the four-time major champion closed it out with a 7-iron to 2 feet that was conceded for birdie.
It was a day Bradley didn’t want to end.
“Oh, baby, I wish we could go 36 more,” Bradley said.
He wasn’t the only rookie to shine on a mild day in the Chicago suburbs. Nicolas Colsaerts, the 29-year-old from Belgium, helped Europe avoid getting shut out in afternoon fourballs by single-handedly taking down Woods and Steve Stricker.
Colsaerts made eight birdies and an eagle – 10-under-par 62 if he was keeping score on his own. He teamed with Lee Westwood, who was just along for this amazing ride for a 1-up victory that ended 11 hours of enormous cheers and plenty of American red on the leaderboard.
Woods and Stricker also lost to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose in morning foursomes, making this the fourth time in the seven Ryder Cups that Woods has played that he lost both matches on the opening day.
There was nothing he could do against Colsaerts, the biggest hitter in Europe who isn’t too bad with the putter, either.
“Nicolas probably had one of the greatest putting rounds I’ve ever seen,” Woods said, high praise coming from a 14-time major champion.
Europe has won six of the past eight times in the Ryder Cup.