Phil Mickelson strikes first in Rory Ryder Cup rivalry

Phil Mickelson drew first blood in his Ryder Cup rivalry with Rory McIlroy, sinking a two-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole Friday to win their fourball match at Gleneagles.

AFP| Updated: Sep 26, 2014, 22:03 PM IST
Phil Mickelson strikes first in Rory Ryder Cup rivalry

Gleneagles: Phil Mickelson drew first blood in his Ryder Cup rivalry with Rory McIlroy, sinking a two-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole Friday to win their fourball match at Gleneagles.

Five-time major winner Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, the 2012 US Open champion, won 1-up over world number one McIlroy and third-ranked Sergio Garcia to give the Americans a 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 early lead in their biennial golf showdown.

Both duos battled windy conditions and intense emotions as a crowd of 40,000 lined the course for the drama.

"We didn`t have our best stuff there," Mickelson said. "It was tough conditions. We gave a few holes away but we were able to keep the match close."

McIlroy and Garcia led twice in the match but found the same bunker at the par-5 finishing hole and could not match Mickelson.

"Very disappointed, but just got to pick ourselves up and make up for it," McIlroy said.

"Tough battle. The wind was a little tricky. Felt like we played decent golf. It was a little scrappy at times but we fought until the end. Obviously a little disappointed that neither of us made birdie at the last."

McIlroy said Mickelson`s needling earlier in the week about McIlroy having filed a lawsuit against his former management company, one still used by pal Graeme McDowell, added spice to the encounter, the Northern Ireland star admitted.

"Of course it does," McIlroy said. "Phil likes to geta few jabs in here and there. We let him know we heard them the other night. Hopefully we can do our talking on the course."

The US duo improved to 4-0 together after a perfect run in three matches at Medinah in 2012, becoming the first American pair to claim four consecutive Ryder Cup points since Lanny Wadkins and Larry Nelson in 1979.

Europe seized the lead at the par-3 fourth when Garcia blasted out from a bunker for birdie, but the Spaniard missed a short par putt at the seventh, allowing the Americans to pull even.

At the par-5 ninth, Mickelson blasted out of a bunker inches from the cup for a tap-in birdie and Bradley birdied the par-3 10th to put the Americans 2-up.

Europe squared the match after Garcia won the 11th with a par and McIlroy took the 13th with a par and took the lead when Mickelson missed a three-footer for par at 15.

Bradley answered with an eagle at the par-5 16th to again square the match, setting up the dramatic finish.

"It`s not nice to lose the way we were, but it is what it is. You`ve got to hit the right shots at the right times, and unfortunately we weren`t quite on," Garcia said.

"None of us played especially well. It was tough conditions. Probably the fairest thing would have been a draw, but you`re not supposed to be fair here. They played the last two par-5s well and they beat us. The only thing we can do is regroup."

Mickelson, a 44-year-old left-hander, made history as the first American to play in 10 Ryder Cups, one shy of Nick Faldo`s all-time record.