By Dave Shedloski
MEDINAH, Ill. - Europe's big guns held on. America's fizzled. But at the end of the morning foursomes Friday in the opening session of the 39th Ryder Cup, the two teams ended as they began -- all even.
Thanks to Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose knocking off Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the anchor match, Europe and the United States each won two points in the alternate shot format.
That marked the fifth time since 1987 the two teams finished 2-2 in the opening set.
While Poulter-Rose hung on for a 2-up victory, Europe's power duo from Northern Ireland, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, won the 18th with a 5-foot par putt from McDowell to stop Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker 1-up. The Americans were 3 down with six to play, but drew even with their third birdie in a row at No. 16 only to bogey the 18th after Snedeker pushed his drive into the trees, forcing Furyk to pitch out short of the green.
"That match to me just personifies the Ryder Cup," McDowell said. "Myself and Rory played some great golf to go 3 up, and then you're playing against two very gutsy players who clawed their way back."
Phil Mickelson won for only the third time in foursomes, riding the hot putter of rookie Keegan Bradley to knock off Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, 4 and 3. Mickelson, playing with his fourth different rookie partner in the last three Ryder Cups, improved to 3-5-4 in foursomes after he and Bradley won the last four holes.
"He played some of the best golf, and to be his partner was an awesome experience," said Mickelson, who played with Anthony Kim in 2008 and Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in 2010. "I love playing with this man. He's just so fun, loves the game and plays with excitement and man, can he roll the rock."
The European duo had never lost in foursomes together. Garcia had been 8-0-1 in the format dating to 1999.
America also got a point from Zach Johnson and rookie Jason Dufner, who took out Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, 3 and 2. Johnson has won his last two foursomes matches, winning last year with Hunter Mahan.
The last time the opening session finished 2-2 was 1997.
By Dave Shedloski