U.S. Rookies shine under Ryder Cup pressure

MEDINAH, Illinois Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:23pm EDT

1 of 6. U.S. golfers Zach Johnson (2nd L) and Jason Dufner (L) celebrate their victory over Team Europe golfers Lee Westwood (2nd R) and Francesco Molinari (R) during the morning foursomes round at the 39th Ryder Cup golf matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - A gamble by United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III to send out three of his four rookies for the opening foursomes matches on Friday paid off with the debutants shining in pressure packed conditions.

Displaying nerves of steel, first-timers Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley both dropped winning putts to claim their matches and earn the Americans a 2-2 split with the Europeans after the morning session.

Partnered with veteran Jim Furyk, rookie Brandt Snedeker received a Ryder Cup baptism under fire battling Europe's marquee pairing of world number one Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell all the way down to the last hole before falling one up to the Northern Irishmen.

Webb Simpson, the fourth American rookie, was sat down for the foursomes but will get his first taste of action later on Friday in the fourball matches while Bradley, who dazzled with his putting, teamed up with Phil Mickelson for a 4&3 victory over Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald.

Bradley drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-four 15th as the American duo came from one down after eight holes on a cool, breezy day at Medinah Country Club.

It was the first time Donald and Garcia had been beaten in foursomes matches together dating back to the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills.

"He (Bradley) played some of the best golf and to be his partner was an awesome experience," praised Mickelson, who is appearing in his ninth Ryder Cup. "I love, love playing with this man.

"He's just so fun, loves the game and plays with such excitement and man, can he roll the rock."

One down to Britain's Lee Westwood and Italy's Francesco Molinari after eight holes, Dufner and Zach Johnson also staged a back nine rally securing victory when the rookie rolled in a short putt on the 16th to clinch a 3&2 win.

"I really like this format, this environment," Dufner told reporters. "For me I feel like there's a little bit less pressure.

"I'm not trying to post a score, I'm just trying to play golf and enjoy the day and be with a team mate and try to get a point for the team."

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