MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson looked on like a proud father as he watched Keegan Bradley enjoy a spectacular Ryder Cup debut teaming up with his young protege to contribute two wins to the United States 5-3 lead over Europe on Friday.
Mickelson, the most experienced member of the U.S. Ryder Cup brigade with nine appearances, provided the knowhow and Bradley the youthful energy.
They combined to brush aside Briton Luke Donald and Spaniard Sergio Garcia 4&3 in the morning foursomes then followed up with a 2&1 victory over the Northern Ireland duo of world number one Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
”His (Bradley) energy is so positive, it’s so good,“ Mickelson gushed. ”His driver and his putter is off the charts.
“We’ve had a lot of fun, and that brings out best golf out.”
When Bradley joined the PGA Tour in 2011, he and Mickelson struck up an instant friendship that has blossomed into a full-fledged bromance.
The two golfers displayed an obvious chemistry, enjoying every minute they spent inside the Ryder Cup pressure cooker, playfully slapping each other on the back, trading fist-pumps and high-fives and charming the pro-American galleries who roared their support.
”I just loved every second of it,“ said Bradley, who won the PGA Championship in his rookie season. ”To be able to walk down the fairway with Phil and do this is just a dream come true.
”It’s another moment in my life that I can’t believe I‘m a part of. It could be the best day of my life. It’s just a blast.
“This is literally what I’ve dreamt about since I was a little kid and I got to do it next to my idol all day.”
Bradley dropped the decisive putt to cap the morning match and did much of the heavy lifting in the afternoon, carding six birdies.
But it was Mickelson who delivered the decisive blow with a pinpoint tee shot at the 17th that ended the match with a handshake as McIlroy and McDowell conceded defeat.
”It’s awesome and right here on the 17th, it was incredible,“ said Mickelson. ”We’ve had so much fun and it’s what brought our best golf out and to close out with that shot feels spectacular.
”This is one of the most emotional days playing a Ryder Cup that we’ll ever have.
“I felt young, and it felt great. To finish it like this was just great.”
Editing by Julian Linden