Luke Donald too strong for Masters champion in opening Ryder Cup singles
Luke Donald held off a late rally from Bubba Watson to put the first point of the singles on the board for Europe.
Last Updated: 01/10/12 1:43am
The Englishman missed three chances to wrap up a more convincing victory, but he closed out a 2&1 victory after Watson flew the green at the 17th.
Watson got the home fans pumped up early on as he drained a 15-footer for an opening birdie, but the ice-cool Donald followed him in from seven feet.
Donald was gifted the lead at the second when Watson three-putted, and he went two up after a sublime iron to three feet at the fourth.
Donald holed a brave 12-footer for a crucial half at seven, and he also did well to match Watson's birdie at the 10th before finding the centre of the cup from eight feet to go three up a the 11th.
A par at the 12th was enough to go four ahead, and he halved the next despite finding water off the tee as the Masters champion left his par putt short.
Donald missed makeable putts to seal victory at 14 and 15, and Watson extended the match further with a remarkable chip-in at the 16th.
But Donald got up and down from sand at the short 17th, and Watson was unable to pitch in again as Europe celebrated an early win.
"It was a big honour for me that Ollie had enough trust in me to go out and get that first point," Donald said. "That means a lot and I did what I had to do.
"I wish I had won it a few holes earlier. Bubba put some pressure on me at the end, and I was glad I held on.
"It certainly helped having some local support. It wasn't totally going Bubba's way - I felt a lot of love from the crowd."