Sports

U.S. scrambles to surprising Ryder Cup lead

Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker of the United States celebrates halving his match during the morning fourballs Friday at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland.
(David Cannon / Getty Images)

For a few hours, at least, the Europeans looked every bit the heavy favorite in the first matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup.

But on a chilly, windy Friday morning, the Americans fought back.

Thanks to late heroics by Jimmy Walker, Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, the U.S. team moved into afternoon foursomes at Gleneagles with a surprising 2.5-1.5 lead.

As Walker put it: “Pretty fun day.”

The Oklahoma native made birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to give him and Rickie Fowler a half-point against Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer in a fourball match the Europeans had led the entire way.

In the marquee matchup of the session, Bradley made eagle on No. 16 and Mickelson contributed a birdie on No. 18 to secure a comeback victory over Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

The other U.S. point came from rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who cruised to a 5 and 4 victory over Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher.

Second-guessing at the 2014 Ryder Cup grew a little louder on Friday as U.S. team captain Tom Watson chose not to stick with Spieth and Reed for the afternoon foursomes.

The American youngsters held their team together as Europe led in three of four matches early on.

In the afternoon matches:

Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood will face Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson will play Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson. McIlroy and Garcia will stay together against Walker and Fowler, who scrambled back to finish all-square in the morning.

Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell will face Mickelson and Bradley.