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Dave's diary: Day 1

Our man at the course Dave Tindall with his blog from the opening day of the Ryder Cup in Medinah

Last Updated: 29/09/12 3:43am

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2130: Well, well, well. After what seemed an eternity the press were finally handed the Saturday morning foursomes pairings and, wouldn't you know it, Tiger has been benched.

I honestly thought Davis Love would be too lily-livered to do that but now he becomes the first ever skipper in either Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup to drop Woods.

Ironically, I'm not convinced it's a great decision.

Yes, Tiger was way off the pace in the morning session but in the afternoon he played well enough to have won easily. Unfortunately he ran into an absolutely inspired Nicolas Colsaerts, the Belgian rookie pouring in eight birdies an an eagle to basically see off Tiger and Steve Stricker single-handedly.

I guess Tiger's problem is who does he play with? The Stricker pairing has now failed too many times and there doesn't seem an obvious youngster who he can attach onto in the way that Phil Mickelson has found the fountain of youth by playing alongside Keegan Bradley.

So who is playing?

1320 Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson v Justin Rose and Ian Poulter
1335 Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson v Lee Westwood and Luke Donald
1350 Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson v Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia
1405 Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker v Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

As with day one, I think these morning match-ups have a look of 2-2 about them.

The top two US pairings have become their dream teams so it may need some inspiration from Poulter or a hot, hot putter from Luke Donald to tame them. I do think Europe has good chances in the bottom two games though.

Day one was full of the usual thrills and spills of a Ryder Cup and hats off to Davis Love for setting the course up this way. It's still a challenge but it does allow players to get hot and make birdies and that's what the crowds want to see.

I didn't experience anything sinister in terms of bad behaviour in the galleries and, for a while, I did actually feel it was all a little tame.

However, it picked up in the afternoon without ever spilling over and the roars were mostly those celebrating birdies.

Sky Bet now have the USA at 2/5 with Europe out to 5/2 and that's a fair assessment at this stage.

Tiger missing that 15 footer for the half on 18 was important as it limited the European deficit to two points but if that gap has widened by the end of day two I think Europe are in big trouble.

Below, is how the first day played out....

1905: Still waiting for the pairings. Announcement in the press tent says captains Love and Olazabal have an hour after close of play to submit them. Should be pretty soon then.

1815: It promises to be one of those spine-tingling Ryder Cup moments as Tiger has a 15 footer to birdie and half the match. But it catches the lip and Europe, thanks to the sensational Colsaerts, win 1up. That cuts the US lead to 5-3 which is manageable. In fact, the US have twice held a two-point lead after the first day - in 1995 and 2010. However, both times Europe won 14.5-13.5!

1803: If you've been sat in the grandstand at 18 today, the Woods/Stricker v Colsaerts/Westwood match is only the second one you've seen!

1759: Kuchar and Dustin Johnson close out Rose and the hugely disappointing Kaymer 3&2. USA now 5-2 ahead.

1755: Tiger holes a great putt at 16 to win the hole. Europe now just 1up in that one. Then, Woods hits a stunning tee-shot to four feet at 17. But Colsaerts is on fire today and he holes from 20 feet which makes it eight birdies and an eagle for the brilliant Belgian. Tiger makes his putt for a half and Europe are now dormie one in the top game.

1740: Official sheet I have in front of me says "Saturday am pairings will be submitted approx. 1 hour after play".

1730: Rory: "They got off to a very fast start, and at the end of the day we just gave ourselves a little bit too much to do. Keegan and Phil were just too strong this afternoon."

1720: Not surprisingly, Mickelson and Bradley are bouncing off each other as they come off the course. Phil on his tee-shot at 17: "Just hit a solid, penetrating iron shot through the air and that baby was all over the flagstick." Bradley adds: "I love playing with him. That last shot just showed why Phil Mickelson is a Hall of Famer." Asked if he has any energy left, Bradley adds: "Oh, baby, I wish I could go 36 more!"

1708: Nope. Mickelson's putt is conceded and they close out the two Ulstermen 3&1. That's two wins out of two for Mickelson/Bradley and the USA now lead 4-2.

1705: Some Mickelson magic at 17 as he plonks his tee-shot to three feet. That could be game over although Rory has a decent birdie chance too.

1700: USA in a strong position but they need to close these matches out. Bradley's bunker shot at 16 means he and Mickelson are now 2up with two to play on Rory and McDowell but it's not over yet.

1640: Nicolas Colsaerts has been sensational today. He makes another big putt on 13 and he and Westwood go 2up on Woods and Stricker with five to play.

1620: Latest Ryder Cup odds from @skybet. USA 4/11, Europe 11/4, Tie 11/1.

1615: Bubba Watson: "It's been an amazing ride. Since my dad has been gone I've played some good golf, I've won a major, got a son, now I'm in the Ryder Cup again."

1610: Webb Simpson: "I just kind of thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because this was my first Ryder Cup and I was scared to death, so I drew a lot of strength from Him, so I'm thankful."

1557: Watson and Simpson close out Lawrie and Hanson 5&4. They and their families have a group huddle and say a little prayer (both are very religious).

1545: You can add an eagle to that! Colsaerts' three at 10 puts Europe 2up.

1530: Well, there is one shining light this afternoon - Nicolas Colsaerts. He's just poured in his fifth birdie of the opening nine holes to take him and (passenger) Westwood into a 1up lead over Woods and Stricker.

1515: Lots of Twitter folk berating Olazabal for dropping Poulter and sticking with Westwood. Opinion seems to be that Ollie should have been more flexible, changing his line-ups based on morning performances rather than sticking to something pre-conceived.

1445: Poulter was asked earlier when he found out he wasn't playing this afternoon. "I found out yesterday afternoon. I knew."

1430: This has to be worrying for Europe now. Americans 6up in top match, 4up in second match, 2up in third and all square in the last. Losing 3-1 in this session might not be a bad result for Europe now.

1400: Back from a good wander outside. But, boy, am I glad I had a little radio with me. It's no easy gig being a spectator at the Ryder Cup and a large chunk of my time was spent shuffling across bridges, getting caught in bottlenecks and craning over people's heads. Still, I did find a few vantage points. Standing to the right of the first green allowed me to see Tiger do a sideways slashing fist pump as he rolled in a 15 footer for birdie. And the best way to see the green at the second (unless you pitched up there hours earlier) is to be crossing the bridge as they tee off. I was about halfway across when Stricker's tee-shot crept onto the front green and almost went in the hole for an ace. The US have all the momentum in the afternoon but still I think the crowds aren't doing enough. When Tiger holed for birdie, the crowds were cheering more for him than the US team. Lovely weather out there and so far the beers (Bud Light appears the drink of choice) aren't kicking in too much. The atmosphere? More very pleasant than electric so far.1230: Ian Poulter: "This for me was a tough game. Tiger has had two of my three (Ryder Cup) defeats and I never wanted to have another one. So it was going to be a tough day. But as Justin said, I've got his back and he's got mine. He asks me to hole a putt, I'm going to go and deliver."

1225: With the score at 2-2, there's been very little change to Sky Bet's latest betting. USA 8/11, Europe 7/5, Tie 10/1.

1215: McDowell on his opening tee-shot: "It was a very bizarre experience. The silence was deafening and it made my mind go blank. It was very strange." Seems that Bubba didn't want the same and he actively got the crowd to make a noise when he teed off a moment ago.

1210: Poulter and Rose embrace as the latter's lovely chip on 17 ensures a par that wins the match. It's a 2&1 win over Tiger and Stricker.

1205: Clutch 10 foot putt by Poulter at 16 means he and Rose stay 2up on Woods and Stricker. Strange that Poults has been dropped for the afternoon. On this morning's form, Westwood was more deserving of being benched.

1155: Love how Jason Dufner isn't feeling the pressure. Here are his post-round quotes: "I really like this format, this environment. For me I feel like there's a little bit less pressure. I'm not trying to post a score. I'm just trying to play golf and enjoy the day and be with a teammate and try to get a point for the team. You know, I'm just caught up in each hole being a point and win points for the team, so that takes a lot of stress out for me.

1145: And here are the fourballs: 1805 Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson v Paul Lawrie/Peter Hanson
1820 Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley v Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell
1835 Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar v Justin Rose/Martin Kaymer
1850 Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker v Lee Westwood/Nicolas Colsaerts.

1131: Johnson and Dufner close out Westwood and Molinari 3&2. Now USA 2 Europe 1.

1130: Looking big odds-on for the morning to be tied 2-2. Poulter knocks in a five footer to send him and Rose 3up on Tiger and Stricker. Meanwhile, Westwood and Molinari are set to lose to Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

1125: I love Ryder Cup matches that go down 18 all square. Means all three outcomes are still possible and they're huge momentum swingers. And that's what happens to the top match with Europe coming through. Snedeker's poor tee-shot leads to an American bogey and the rock-solid McDowell holes a four footer to win the match! Job done for McIlroy and McDowell and they level the match at 1-1.

1110: Bradley: "It was one of the most memorable days of my life so far." Mickelson: "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."

1055: Just been to get an ice cream (I have a sore throat, honest) and on the canteen TV saw Bradley perform his now trademark celebration lurch. His monster putt closes out Donald and Garcia 4&3 (that duo's first ever foursomes defeat in Ryder Cup) and puts the first point on the board. 1-0 to the USA.

1040: And you knew it would happen sooner rather than later... Poulter pulls out some magic and holes his bunker shot at 11 to go 2up on Woods and Stricker. A rather unexpected Ali G style 'respect' celebration from Rose.

1030: Hugely important by McDowell keeps the Euros 2up in the top match with four to play just as it seemed Furyk and Snedeker were launching a late charge. Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson are 2up on Donald and Garcia after 13. There's now a gif doing the rounds on Twitter of Mickelson 'but-slapping' his teammate.

1010: McIlroy and McDowell still 3up in the top game but the rest of the scoreboard now has a balance to it with one game all square and both teams having a 1up lead in the other two.

0955: Tiger's early play has been woeful but he finally finds a way to win a hole. His tee-shot whacks a spectator on the head, drawing blood, but diverts back towards the fairway from where he and Stricker make a winning birdie. Now just one down to Poulter/Rose.

0950: Six birdies in seven holes now for the on-fire Euro lead-out group of McIlroy and McDowell. They're 3up.

0930: Just over two hours gone and Europe are up in all four matches! McIlroy and McDowell have made birdies at five of the last six holes to be 1up on Snedeker and Furyk at the turn.

0920: Strange to see a few fans sat in the grandstand at 18. a) they've got a long wait before seeing any action, b) it's not exactly warm c) what if the matches don't go down the 18th? They won't see a single shot!

0900: Davis Love was interviewed on US TV earlier and he was clearly a little miffed that the crowd aren't making any noise. It really is strangely quiet out there. Obviously Europe being up in all four matches has had a big effect but these so-called Chicago sport nuts need to raise their game.

0820: Overall impression on the first tee was that it wasn't a patch on the atmosphere at the K Club. Chants seemed to peter out and even the expected big roar for Tiger was nothing amazing. Still a good atmosphere though and perhaps it's daft to try and compare the two. The Irish are something else! There was one thing the two Ryder Cups had in common though - Tiger pulling his first tee-shot an absolute mile left.

0725: That was a right old scrum. Earlier this week I was stood on top of the stand behind the first tee on my own. Today it was packed so I had to be assertive (and slightly rude) by pushing my way in to get a decent view. Just about managed it and captured McDowell hitting his shocker of an opening shot. Strange to see assistant captain Thomas Bjorn walking to the first tee wearing huge mitts. I thought he was from Scandinavia. Think he's spent too much time living in Dubai as it wasn't really cold at all.

0700: Chants picking up now. Can here them from the media tent!

0630: Just been to the first tee. Lots of people running there - including pack of Euro fans in plus fours and flat caps. Surprisingly quiet.

0600: A very warm morning from Medinah where it's pitch black still. Off to the first tee to see if the flash on my camera can produce a decent picture. Nervous feeling in my stomach - although it could be last night's "Deep Dish Pizza".

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