Nicolas Colsaerts lifts European spirits but USA lead 5-3 after opening day of Ryder Cup Medinah
Last Updated: September 29, 2012 7:35am
Nicolas Colsaerts: The Belgian rookie was 10-under on his own ball
A stunning debut from Nicolas Colsaerts lit up an otherwise disappointing day for Europe as the USA opened up a 5-3 lead in the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah.
The early signs were encouraging for Jose Maria Olazabal's men as they led in every morning foursomes match at one point, but the hosts fought back to share the session before dominating the afternoon fourballs.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson were particularly impressive as they collected two wins, but Colsaerts produced arguably the round of the day as he and Lee Westwood edged Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in match eight.
The Belgian debutant was a remarkable 10 under on his own, with eight birdies and an eagle, as he more than made up for Westwood's inconsistency in a valuable one-up victory.
Mickelson and Bradley claimed the first point of the contest as they hit back from one down after eight against Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia to win five of the next seven holes.
Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson starred on the greens in a comfortable win over Westwood and Francesco Molinari, but Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell got Europe on the board - albeit later than expected.
The Northern Irishmen were three up with six to play before Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker rallied to take the match up the 18th, only for Snedeker to carve his drive into the trees and effectively gift the point to Europe.
Ian Poulter then claimed his ninth win in 12 matches as he and good friend Justin Rose clinched a hard-fought 2&1 win over Steve Stricker and a clearly out-of-sorts Tiger Woods.
But Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson set the tone for the afternoon as they destroyed Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie with an astinishing birdie blitz.
The major champions stormed to the turn in a Ryder Cup-record 29 before completing a 5&4 win, and McIlroy and McDowell could not recover from losing their first three holes to Bradley and Mickelson.
Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson were too strong for Rose and an erratic Martin Kaymer, but the day finished on a high note for Europe thanks to Colsaerts.
Woods had just halved Europe's lead with a well-worked birdie at 16 when the unflappable Colsaerts responded with a crucial 20-footer for a two at 17 with Woods four feet away.
And it was fitting that the powerful Belgian posted the match-winning par at the last as Woods' birdie putt slid by on the left to leave him without a point on day one.