"It was a big honor for me, that (Olazabal) had that trust in me," Donald said. "It means a lot to go out and lead the team."
Donald knocked off Bubba Watson in the first singles match of Ryder Cup Sunday, winning 2&1. It looked like it would be easy, but it wound up being anything but. Donald was pin-hunting all day, making six birdies, and had a chance to close out Watson 5&4, but he missed a short eagle putt on No. 14. He then missed a short birdie putt on No. 15 -- which, again, would have won the match -- to give Watson hope. Then, Watson chipped in on No. 16, sending the crowd into a tizzy and giving him a realistic chance of stealing half a point from Donald.
Donald's tee shot on the par-3 16th sailed over the green and into the bunker, but the Northwestern grad showed why he's regarded as the best bunker player in the world, knocking it to within two feet to clinch the match and cut the Americans' lead to 10-7.
"I don't know what I would have done going down 18, the nerves were starting to build and Bubba was putting serious pressure on me," Donald said. "You expect that at this level. ... It's nice to get the first point for Europe."
Those mood swings have been typical of a wild Sunday at Medinah. Flags have been going up and coming down on the leaderboard all day, as the massive crowd has been alternately silent and raucous. At 1 p.m. (that's Central time, Rory McIlroy), the U.S. led in just one of the 10 matches on the course. At 1:15 p.m., there were four U.S. flags on the board against just three European ones. At 1:25, Europe led four of the first five matches. At 2:05, the second, third and fourth matches were all square. At 2:15, as Watson made his charge on Donald, Europe led just three of 12 matches.