MEDINAH, Ill. — The only person capable of cooling off Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson was US captain Davis Love. He chose to sit them during the Saturday four-ball matches, citing the need to have his team rested for Sunday singles and adhering to a plan that has worked better than even Love might have imagined.
Bradley and Mickelson, who won twice Friday, made it 3 for 3 on Saturday morning, and added an emphatic exclamation point to the last victory, beating Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in a foursomes match, 7 and 6. The margin of victory equals the largest in a Ryder Cup team match; Hale Irwin and Tom Kite (1979), and Paul Azinger and Mark O’Meara (1991) also won 7 and 6.
Playing the tougher alternate-shot format, Bradley and Mickelson were 6 under through 12 holes, without a bogey. They won the first two holes and never trailed; in fact, in their three matches together (44 holes), Bradley and Mickelson faced a one-hole deficit for only three holes.
Bradley’s fiery reactions have excited the partisan crowd the first two days, but he said the galleries have returned the favor.
“It’s just a great atmosphere for me because I love watching the Patriots and the Celtics play, and I love when they get the crowd going,” Bradley said. “I love when they run up to them and get them excited, and for me that was kind of my mentality this week.”
Neither Bradley nor Mickelson expressed surprise at not playing a fourth straight team match. Mickelson said it might be advantageous to sit so they don’t get fatigued and jeopardize two singles points on Sunday.
“I would much rather sit and have a guy who didn’t play go play because I want everyone to be ready for singles,” Bradley said. “I’m putting so much emotion into my rounds that it’s probably a good thing that I’ll be rested up for tomorrow’s singles.”
Point is made
One of Saturday’s biggest points came from Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker, who played Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell for the second straight morning in alternate shot. On Friday, despite clawing back from a three-hole deficit, Furyk and Snedeker lost the match on No. 18.
This time, they won the first hole with a short birdie putt from Snedeker, and never trailed, coming out on the opposite end of a 1-up result.
“It’s a huge monkey off my back,” said Snedeker, one of four rookies on the US team and the last one to get a win. “It was obviously a tough way to end yesterday, so to come out here today and play the same team felt like I had something to prove to Jim and to them that it was not going to be the same guy they saw yesterday.
“It was great to beat one of their best teams and get us that much-needed point.”
It’s not often — or expected — in the alternate-shot format for both players to hit off the tee on a par-3 hole. But that’s what happened with Westwood and Donald in their lopsided morning loss to Bradley and Mickelson. Westwood, playing first, dumped his tee shot on the 192-yard second into the lake guarding the green. That forced Donald to also play from the tee, hitting the team’s third shot with the penalty.
They lost the hole, then went on to drop the match, 7 and 6. Westwood is 1-2-0 in these matches, the lone win coming when his partner, Nicolas Colsaerts, dropped eight birdies and an eagle on Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker Friday afternoon.
“[They] obviously got a bit of momentum from yesterday, and they started off quick today,” Westwood said. “They were something like 6 under through 10. We didn’t play well enough and put enough pressure on them, but that’s what in golf is normally going to win.”
Both former US presidents named George Bush were in attendance, and they spoke to the US team at dinner Saturday. The Rev. Jesse Jackson also made an appearance. Toby Keith and Michael Jordan were also inside the ropes . . . Skywriting airplanes (there were five working together) were writing pro-Europe messages. The first: “Do it for Seve. #Go Europe.” The second: “Anyone seen Tiger?” . . . Zach Johnson’s wife, Kim, has been here all week rooting her husband on, despite the fact that she’s eight months pregnant. She’s being ushered around in a golf cart . . . There were no team matches halved, the first time since 1995.