- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
WORST PAIRING: Graeme McDowell--Rory McIlroy. In the cleanup foursomes match they didn't make a birdie until the 14th hole while losing a rematch versus Jim Furyk--Brandt Snedeker. The Ulstermen displayed little energy and, given their close friendship, a surprising lack of chemistry.
FASHION DON'T: Matt Kuchar played without a belt. Has that ever happened in the post-Sansabelt era?
TRAGIC FIGURE: Lee Westwood. The supposed leader of the European squad showed zero fight, and even less game, while being annihilated 7 and 6 by Bradley--Phil Mickelson, matching the most lopsided foursomes loss in Ryder Cup history. Westwood's shaky short game is the reason he is famously majorless, and he regressed badly at Medinah, blowing short putts and chunking chips. The foursomes loss earned him a well-deserved benching in the afternoon.
BEST SHOT: Furyk from a fairway bunker on the 18th hole in foursomes. For the second straight day Snedeker stood on that tee in a taut match and made a potentially fatal mistake. But despite an awkward stance, Furyk saved his partner, and secured a 1-up victory, with a superb shot to the heart of the green. Snedeker was so overcome with relief he looked as if he might cry.
WORST SHOT: Colsaerts's drowning his tee shot on the par-3 17th in foursomes to end the match. The hole before had been the first Sergio sighting of the Cup; his chip-in brought the Europeans to 1 down as they furiously fought to salvage the session. But Colsaerts caught his tee shot on the toe, and it fluttered short of the green, splashing into the hazard. He described the feeling as "agony," and this was also felt by his mom, Daniele, who was standing next to the tee. She covered her face with her hands for a full 10 seconds. "This is too much for an old lady to take," she said.
BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: Webb Simpson. Yeah, he's the reigning U.S. Open champion, but this Ryder Cup rookie looked out of sorts during a loss in the leadoff foursomes match as he and Bubba Watson were downed by Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. Simpson rallied in four-balls, tearing off seven birdies, including five in a row, to carry Watson to a victory over Rose and Francesco Molinari, putting the first, crucial U.S. point on the board.
TIGER WATCH: When he was benched for foursomes, it was the first time in his Ryder Cup career that Woods had ridden the pine. The bad juju continued in four-balls, as he and Steve Stricker lost three of the first four holes to Donald and García. Four down at the turn, Woods finally found his game on the back nine, hitting a series of clutch shots in a spirited back and forth with Donald, who made five birdies over the last 10 holes. But on 18, both Woods and Stricker missed birdie putts—the latter from a mere seven feet—giving Europe a 1-up victory that kept hope alive. Afterward Woods stewed on the edge of the 18th green, watching the final match come in. Mickelson, in his newfound role as team leader, wandered over to offer a pep talk, draping his arm on Woods's shoulder and whispering in his ear. Woods was unresponsive, and within three or four seconds Mickelson walked away. Apparently he forgot that the great man doesn't like to be touched. Especially by him. Especially when Phil is 3--0 and Tiger is 0--3.
BEST PUTT(S): Dustin Johnson's downhill 25-footer on the 17th hole in four-balls, the key moment in a 1-up victory that he and Kuchar produced over Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie. An hour later, as darkness fell, Poulter gave this Ryder Cup its signature moment. He and McIlroy were 2 down through 12 holes to Dufner-Johnson. If Europe lost the match, it would have close to zero chance of winning the Cup, and all of Chicago knew it. McIlroy began the rally with a birdie at 13, and then Poulter went bonkers, birdieing the next four to put Europe 1 up heading to 18, growing more animated with every made putt. The unflappable Dufner birdied 18, leaving Poulter with a do-or-die 15-footer to cover the birdie and win the match. If you are a golf fan, you could barely breathe. Poulter poured in the putt and turned, bug-eyed, to the assembled U.S. team, loosing a primal scream that felt like a haka. The Yanks were frozen in place, and they weren't the only team to feel the impact of Poulter's putt. "The level of belief within our team room has increased immensely," McDowell tweeted. Poulter ran his record to 3--0 in this Cup and 11--3 lifetime.
WORST PUTT: Lawrie's gagging a three-footer at the 11th in four-balls. That would have won the hole and squared the match. The Scottish stalwart waited 13 years to play in his second Cup but went 0--2 over the first two days.
ACT OF GAMESMANSHIP: On Friday, Watson had fired up the massive crowd on the 1st tee by allowing them to cheer while he was swinging. Paired against Watson in foursomes, with the honor off No. 1, Poulter stole Watson's idea and encouraged the crowd to hector him midswing, which they gladly did. Bubba loved it. "I think it's great for the game of golf," he said. "It made it fun.... It was cool to see."