Late front-nine birdie propels Johnson, Dufner

Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson of the USA celebrates a birdie putt on the 10th green during the morning foursome matches.

Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson of the USA celebrates a birdie putt on the 10th green during the morning foursome matches.

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MEDINAH, Ill. -- The United States team of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson were 1 down to Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari as the two teams played the par-4 ninth hole.

Staring at a birdie putt of about 10 feet, Dufner put a beautiful stroke on it, but it clung to the edge of the cup. He was walking it in, thinking it would drop. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. Drop.

A huge birdie to square the match heading to the back-nine, where the U.S. tandem would win Nos. 10, 15 and 16 to close out the match 3 and 2, clinching the second point for the American team.

"I really like this format, this environment. For me I feel like there's a little bit less pressure," said Dufner. "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."

After going 1 down after the first hole, and then losing Nos. 5 and 7 (both par-5s), Johnson said he tried not to press.

"Well, I mean, I noticed the board; I'm not going to lie to you. The one thing I did notice, though, it was very early in the match," said Johnson. "This is not a sprint by any means, and it's a marathon. You've just got to stick to your routine, stick to your process. The difficult thing for me out there is really just kind of keeping nice and calm."

Neither Dufner or Johnson will play this afternoon in fourballs, with Molinari also sitting it out.

The Europeans ran into trouble with some poor decisions, particularly on the par-4 15th, where Westwood tried to drive the green, but found the water instead.

"We made a couple of mistakes on the back nine, and they just played very well, so we need to congratulate them," said Molinari. "I think we played all right. Obviously in the usually moments it went that way. We could have done a little bit more."

Westwood is teamed with Nicolas Colsaerts - a Ryder Cup rookie - in the afternoon's third match against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

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