Ryder Cup 2014: Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood beat Jim Furyk and Matt Kucher
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SportsPaulH
Last Updated: 26/09/14 7:00pm
Europe struck back in style in the afternoon foursomes at the Ryder Cup as they dominated the session without losing a match to take a 5-3 lead at the end of the opening day.
While rookie Stephen Gallacher had looked a bit nervous in the morning, fellow debutants Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson took to their first Ryder Cup like ducks to water and looked at home right from the start despite playing in the more difficult alternate shot format.
Donaldson and Lee Westwood and Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell had all sat out the morning fourballs session which had seen Team USA take a one-point lead, but a return of three-and-a-half points from four in foursomes saw Europe race into a first day lead.
Westwood and Donaldson led from the front and although they fell one behind they hit back with birdies at the sixth and seventh to put them ahead, before another at the 11th moved them out to two up.
The Americans hit back at the 16th but after a solid half at the 17th, Westwood and Donaldson held their nerve to win the last and secure a 2up victory that meant the Ryder Cup was all square.
"My first Ryder Cup was just an incredible day," said Donaldson. "I was playing against two quality players like Jim and Kuch - it's a battle. I think we played as well as we could have played there and (it came down to) the last, so it just shows how tough it is in this great format."
2up Donaldson/Westwood bt Furyk/Kuchar
2&1 Rose/Stenson bt Mahan/Johnson
McIlroy/Garcia A/S Walker/Fowler
3&2 Dubuisson/McDowell bt Mickelson/Bradley
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were Paul McGinley's golden duo on the first day as they followed up their morning win with a 2&1 success over Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson, despite the Americans being fresher after sitting out the fourballs.
The Europeans started exactly how they left off with a birdie on the first, which they followed with another on the sixth to go two up. Two successive holes for the American pair levelled the match and it was all square until Europe won 15 and 17 to close out the point.
Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler pinched a half in the morning but had their pockets picked by Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia after the European powerhouse pair finished birdie-birdie-birdie to at least get a half point from their two matches.
Although McGinley would’ve fancied a bigger return from pairing the world No 1 and No 3 together, it looked like they’d come back empty handed after a wild drive from Garcia on the 15th led to a bogey and them going two down.
McIlroy then drained a monster 40-foot putt on the 17th to steal that hole when the Americans looked to have the match sewn up, before Garcia blazed an incredible fairway wood out of the rough on 18 to set up another birdie and a half.
“We needed it we really did, we were making life difficult for ourselves out there,” said McIlroy. “I don’t think either of us played from the fairways much. We’ve played two really tough matches but at least we’ve got something out of it.”
Frenchman Dubuisson also made an impressive debut, as he partnered McDowell in a comfortable 3up victory over a tired Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley - who put in a performance that will make Tom Watson wish he had gone for the younger fresh pair of rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth instead.
The duo needed just two birdies to sink a struggling American duo, with the second only coming on the 16th to clinch a 3&2 victory which McDowell enjoyed with his new partner.
"It was a lot of fun today. It was a long wait this morning, having to sit out and watch the boys play," said McDowell. "Victor and I were really fired up for this afternoon.
"I've got to say, one thing about my Ryder Cup experience is that I always get good partners. I played with Rory McIlroy the last couple and this kid right here - I'm telling you right now folks - this kid's the next superstar in Europe."