Watson and Simpson put U.S. 3-2 up at Cup
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson pummeled Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Swede Peter Hanson 5&4 to earn the United States the first point of the afternoon in Friday's opening fourball matches at the Ryder Cup.
Held back by captain Davis Love III for the morning's foursomes, Watson and rookie Simpson came out all guns blazing in bright sunshine, piling up nine birdies between them before sealing the win at the par-five 14th.
The crowd, crammed around the green, erupted in loud cheers after Watson was conceded the team's 10th birdie after lagging his eagle putt close to the hole for the U.S. to edge ahead 3-2.
The home team, who had split the opening session with holders Europe 2-2 after a cool and breezy morning, were also leading in two other matches while trailing in the third.
Phil Mickelson and rookie Keegan Bradley, who had won together in the morning, were three up on world number one Rory McIlroy and fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell after 13 holes.
Long-hitting Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, who also sat out the morning session, were three up on Englishman Justin Rose and Germany's Martin Kaymer after nine holes while Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods were one down to Britain's Lee Westwood and Belgian rookie Nicolas Colsaerts after 11.
Love has set up Medinah's No. 3 course with virtually no rough in a bid to create a birdie fest this week and after both teams took advantage in the first session, it was mainly the Americans who feasted in the afternoon.
Left-hander Watson and Simpson recorded birdies at the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, 10th and 12th in the best-ball format to give the home crowd a huge lift as cries of "U-S-A U-S-A" echoed across the course.
"You've got to get them involved," Love said of the crowd. "We didn't do a very good job of that right out of the gate this morning ... we came out a little bit flat right in the beginning.
"Now obviously we're getting the crowd into it. The sun is out, and they're excited. This could be a good afternoon."
Bidding to win the Ryder Cup for only the second time in six editions, the Americans had trailed in all four of the morning's opening foursomes before fighting back to split the session.
Bradley and Mickelson earned the first point by beating Britain's Luke Donald and Spaniard Sergio Garcia 4&3, then a second when Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner defeated Westwood and Francesco Molinari of Italy 3&2.
McIlroy and McDowell came through for Europe when they edged Jim Furyk and rookie Brandt Snedeker one up after a fluctuating battle in the top match before Ian Poulter and Rose squared the ledger by beating an out of sorts Woods and Stricker 2&1.
Europe, under the captaincy of Jose Maria Olazabal, field one of their strongest ever lineups but face a challenging task to retain the trophy with the U.S. having lost only three times on home soil since the matches began in 1927.
(Editing by Julian Linden)
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