USA’s 2-2 morning tie in Ryder Cup encouraging

SHARE USA’s 2-2 morning tie in Ryder Cup encouraging

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“Here

we go, Baby! Here we go!” Michael Jordan said as he stood behind the 16th

green, wearing a six-championship grin.

A

huge Ryder Cup fan, the Bulls legend was pumped up for good reason.

Phil

Mickelson and Keegan Bradley had just closed out Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald,

who had been 4-0 together, to give Team USA first blood at Medinah.

And

Jim Furyk had just struck a terrific shot to set up a birdie putt that would

pull Furyk and Brad Snedeker into a tie with Rory McIlroy and Graem McDowell,

Europe’s premier tandem.

The

normally placid Furyk, who had nearly driven the 15th green while

the Euros landed in the water, gave a big fist-pump from the fairway after his

bigshot on No. 16. The birdie putt became moot. McDowell’s 16th hole

had come up short, and even a good sand shot from McIlroy, McDowell couldn’t

convert the par putt.

After

blowing a three-up lead, the two Northern Irishmen prevailed, winning the match

one-up when the U.S. pair bogeyed No. 18 off an errant drive by Snedeker.

“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 to all

square coming down the last two holes.”

But

Team USA made its point in the four morning alternate shot matches, which had

looked favorable for Team Europe.

A

2-2 push in the morning was a good showing for Team USA for several reasons.

Not

only did the Americans not lose ground. The pairing of Mickelson and Bradley looks

like it’s going to be a strong one this weekend. Team USA captain Davis Love

III showed his faith by sending them out as his second best-ball tandem Friday

afternoon.

“[Bradley]

was really fired up,” Mickelson said.“He played some of the

best golf. To be his partner was an awesome experience. I love, love

playing with this man. He’s just so fun, loves the game and plays with

such excitement–and man, can he roll the rock.”

Another

plus: While enigmatic American star Tiger Woods was all over the course in losing

his morning round 2 and 1 with partner Steve Stricker to Ian Poulter and Justin

Rose, Furyk and Snedeker served notice that the Americans aren’t going to be

intimidated by Euro star Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 1 ranked player.

McIlroy

lived up to his billing, chipping in from behind the fourth green and striking

a variety of shots well, especially around the greens, in his first Ryder Cup

before a hostile crowd.

Things

got off on a testy note when Furyk didn’t want McDowell to get relief from a

sprinkler head on the fringe of the first green. Rules officials sided with

Furyk.

But

the spirit of competition generally remained a friendely rivalry. While waiting

for Furyk’s second shot on No. 18, a delicate punch out of the woods, Michael

Jordan chatted amiably with Luke Donald in the fairway.

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