An awesome opening day saw Europe establish their biggest lead in the history of The Ryder Cup Matches after moving 6 ½ to 1 ½ points ahead at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Twice before, in 1987 and 1999, Europe have led 6-2 after the opening day but today Bernhard Langer’s men surpassed that.
The entire team was inspired but none more so than Colin Montgomerie who partnered Padraig Harrington to take two points out of two and set the tone for the day. As soon as Montgomerie, Europe’s on-course leader, started the day with a birdie on the very first hole Europe were on a roll and never looked back. Montgomerie is now unbeaten in 16 of his last 18 matches. He has also played in a record 29 successive matches.
The trend was repeated all through the Team. Darren Clarke was magnificent as first he and Miguel Angel Jiménez accounted for Davis Love III and Chad Campbell in the morning before the Ulsterman was reunited with his great friend Lee Westwood against the mighty Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
After the American dream team were beaten by Montgomerie and Harrington in the morning, everyone expected them to come out all guns blazing in the foursomes and the fans were not disappointed. The Americans went three up after four holes and the momentum seemed to be swinging their way but Clarke and Westwood had either ideas. They started to reel them in and by the tenth they were all square. Europe edged one ahead with a par on the 11th and they held their slender lead until the 17th when Westwood was unable to extricate himself from sand. All square playing the last but then Mickelson hit a wild tee shot on the last and the honours went to Europe by the narrowest of margins.
Donald, making his Ryder Cup debut, was an other to rise to the occasion, securing a tense half in the morning with Paul McGinley before joining forces with Sergio Garcia to comfortably defeat Kenny Perry and David Toms.
The only defeat came at the hands of Chris DiMarco and Jay Haas, Jiménez and Thomas Levet not getting the breaks as they lost 3 and 2 for Americas only point of the day.
“It’s been an awesome day for the European Team,” said a delighted Langer. “To beat the top pairing, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and get two points out of those first two matches, that’s awesome. That’s exactly what I wanted to happen and what I was hoping for. To have the biggest lead we have ever had after the first day is incredible and awesome and fantastic. I’m proud of my guys.”
After inflicting two defeats on the American dream pairing, Langer said: “ It was huge psychologically, a huge blow for the Americans and a huge help for the Europeans. I’m thrilled the way it turned out for us.”
Hal Sutton on the other hand looked shell shocked as he addressed the media. “Well, we made history today,” he said. “They played great and we played poorly. But we are not out of it by any means. We have to set a goal now to gain points tomorrow. I’m going to tell the guys tonight we have to have five points or more. That’s it, pure and simple.”