Commentary

Lefty, Bradley team up again for win

Originally Published: September 29, 2012
By Farrell Evans | ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- After 13 different partners in eight previous Ryder Cups, Phil Mickelson has finally found his man in Keegan Bradley. On Saturday, the dynamic duo continued their undefeated run in these 39th Ryder Cup matches with a 7 and 6 romp over Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in the Saturday morning foursomes. That equals the largest victory ever in a Ryder Cup match.

[+] EnlargeKeegan Bradley
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesThe most impressive aspect of Keegan Bradley's start to his Ryder Cup career might be the quality of the opponents he has beaten, including Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.

It wasn't a fair fight as the two Americans had six birdies in the first 10 holes. Donald and Westwood, two former No. 1 players in the world, were never in the match. The Americans applied pressure on the Europeans from the very first hole, when Mickelson hit his approach to a foot.

Lefty came into these matches at Medinah Country Club with a less than spectacular 11-17-6 career record. This is the first time since the 1995 Oak Hill matches that he has had a 3-0 record. David Toms, with whom Mickelson has a 3-3-1 record, is the closest thing the Lefty had to a successful partner before teaming with the 2011 PGA Championship winner.

Bradley is the most refreshing thing to come to these biennial matches in many years. His infectious energy is reminiscent of what Sergio Garcia brought to the Europeans when the Spaniard played in his first Ryder Cup at Brookline in 1999, when he and Jesper Parnevik won their first three matches.

But perhaps Bradley's greatest contribution so far is how he has lifted Mickelson's spirits.

"Keegan played well, but Phil is excited because he played well," said Jim "Bones" Mackay, Mickelson's longtime caddie. "Keegan and Phil are good buddies. Keegan is a 26-year-old Phil Mickelson in the way he plays and thinks. He goes after things. They have similar golf brains."

On Saturday, their brains had incredible synergy for the second day in a row. It's hard to remember an American partnership with so much camaraderie.

"The European side has had some great teammates with Seve and Ollie and some others, but to be able to share this experience with Keegan and to partake in his great play and experience the Ryder Cup together has been really awesome," Mickelson said after the win. "We've had so much fun. The crowd has provided so much energy, and it's brought out our best golf."

After the completion of Day 1, U.S. captain Davis Love III said he didn't want any of his players to play all five matches. And, to some surprise here, he left Tiger Woods out of the Saturday morning sessions.

Love kept to that philosophy when he decided to sit the 3-0-0 pairing of Mickelson and Bradley in Saturday afternoon's four-ball matches. The U.S. captain is keeping his eye on the primary goal of hoisting the Ryder Cup on Sunday night.

"The thing about it is, historically and mathematically, the guys that have played five matches have not done as well in the singles, and we want to make sure we're rested and focused on the singles," Mickelson said after his match but before the Saturday afternoon pairings were released.