With the U.S. up 5-3 after day one of the Ryder Cup, who were the stars and the goats?
Brilliant Performance: Nicolas Colsaerts – How about a four-ball round with an eagle and eight birdies and doing it against Tiger Woods? Without Colsaerts’ brilliance, Europe would have been whitewashed in the afternoon and in serious trouble. When Jose Maria Olazabal could have picked Ryder Cup veteran Padraig Harrington, he instead went for the Belgian bomber who made the choice look good on Friday.
Most Valuable Player: Keegan Bradley – He carried Phil Mickelson in the morning, making huge putts to grab the momentum and then to clinch. Is this really the youngest player in the event? They won the last four holes in the morning to close out the team of Luke Donald/Sergio Garcia in 15 holes, handing them their first loss in five matches as a Ryder Cup duo. In the afternoon, Bradley/Mickelson handled the European power duo of Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell, Bradley making birdies on two of the first three holes and finishing with six in the round.
Least Valuable Player: Lee Westwood – He entered with a 16-11-6 record, but didn’t make a birdie in the afternoon four ball, riding Colsaerts in a victory over Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker. In the morning, Westwood and Francesco Molinari didn’t make a birdie on the final nine holes and lost in 16. Westwood had plenty of putts for birdie but didn’t make a thing.
Keep Them Together: Webb/Simpson/Bubba Watson – They were aces as the first group out for the U.S. in the 2011 Presidents Cup and they were brilliant again in the Friday four ball, making six birdies on the first eight holes to dominate Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson. Keep Simpson/Watson in the lead role for both matches on Saturday.
Keep Them Together, But Rest Them: Bradley/Mickelson – Because of all the energy they expended on Friday, the temptation is to bench them in the morning. Davis Love III can certainly find eight deserving players for the Saturday foursomes.
Break Them Up: Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker – Even in losing, Woods found it in the afternoon. Stricker doesn’t seem to be doing much for him. It doesn’t matter who Woods plays with. He’s out there by himself either way. How about pairing him up with the best putter on either side, Brandt Snedeker?
Rookies are a Revelation: The U.S. rookies combined for four of five possible points. Bradley (2-0), Webb Simpson (1-0) and Jason Dufner (1-0) were perfect. Brandt Snedeker (0-1) was the only U.S. rookie loser. Colsaerts (1-0) is the lone rookie on the European side.
U.S. Foursomes: Here’s a guess what groups Davis Love might put together for the morning: 1) Simpson/Watson. 2) Z. Johnson/Dufner. 3) D. Johnson/Kuchar. 4) Woods/Snedeker.
European Foursomes: What will Jose Maria Olazabal do on Saturday morning? Expect him to lean on his most proven players. 1) Poulter/Rose. 2) Donald/Garcia. 3) Colsaerts/Westwood. 4) McIlroy/McDowell.