MEDINAH, Ill. – Keegan Bradley jumped around like the kid who’d gotten the new bike for Christmas. The crowd cheered louder as the ball crept toward the hole and when it stopped, Bradley’s caddie, Steven Hale, held his hands aloft, just inches apart, to signify its proximity to the hole.
Mickelson’s magnificent wedge, and another European miscue, allowed the United States’ dream team of Bradley and Phil Mickelson to win its Saturday morning foursomes match, 7 and 6, tying the largest winning margin in a team match in Ryder Cup history.
“We’ve had so much fun,” Mickelson said. “The crowd has provided so much energy, and it’s brought our best golf out.”
The Americans’ clinching par was classic Mickelson. He pulled his tee shot well right of the fairway. Bradley pitched out, about 100 yards short of the green. Mickelson’s shot landed about 20 feet left of the hole, then slowly gained momentum as it rolled down a slope, nearly going in before stopping close. Westwood then left his 20-foot birdie putt about 5 feet short, and Donald missed the next one, to give the Americans a third consecutive victory. Their status as the stars of this week is all but ensured.
“We just kept pushing and trying as hard as we could,” Donald said, “but they kept coming up with great shots.”
Foursomes is not a format for low scores, but the Americans made six birdies in 12 holes Saturday. Just as importantly, they were bogey-free. The Europeans were 2 over.
Mickelson is one match from having his first spotless Ryder Cup since his 1995 debut, when he went 3-0. This is the first time Mickelson has won three team matches in a single Ryder Cup. Bradley is the first U.S. rookie to win his first three team matches since Loren Roberts in 1995. The Americans’ successful duo did not play Saturday afternoon, as Davis Love III doesn’t want any of his charges playing five matches this week.
Mickelson and Bradley didn’t lose a single hole Saturday. The Americans have played just 44 holes in three matches. They’ve won 18 of them, or 41 percent. They’ve lost only five holes, and trailed for only three of them.
“It’s a little yin and yang,” Hale said. “Phil is so laid back and so loose, and Keegan can be very intense. I think they bring out a little bit of what each other needs to help find the balance.”
They’ve closed all three matches in dramatic fashion. Bradley holed a 30-foot birdie putt to end their first match, a 4-and-3 foursomes win over Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who had been a combined 14-0-1 in the format. Mickelson hit his tee shot to 3 feet on the par-3 17th to close out Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, 2 and 1, in Friday afternoon four-balls.
Mickelson and Bradley won the first two holes Saturday morning with conceded birdies. Westwood hit Europe’s first approach shot to 5 feet. Mickelson, who was about 50 yards ahead after Bradley’s big opening tee ball, hit his shot to 1 foot. Donald has built his resume on his stellar short game, but he missed the birdie putt. Westwood hit his tee shot on the par-3 second hole into the water left of the green after Mickelson hit his tee shot to 15 feet.
Bradley and Mickelson won Nos. 6 and 7 to go 4 up. Donald lipped out an 8-footer for par to halve the sixth. Mickelson reached the green in two shots on No. 7, while Europe had to lay up after Donald drove into the right trees. The Americans were 5 up at the turn after Bradley made an 8-foot birdie putt. He stared down the gallery behind the green, imploring them to cheer louder. Bradley reached the par-5 10th in two, allowing the team to win with a two-putt birdie. That was followed by the Americans’ incredible par on No. 12, just another highlight in a memorable week for America’s star duo.