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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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This page contains a single entry by Herb Gould published on September 28, 2012 12:19 PM.

Snedeker's tee shot costs U.S. as teams tie 2-2 in morning matches was the previous entry in this blog.

Poulter shines, then sits for European team is the next entry in this blog.

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