IT WAS arguably the day’s most impressive performance. In blustery conditions. Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood hardly put a foot wrong as they delivered the first foursomes point for Europe.
In accounting for Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar, the Anglo-Welsh pairing were round in an impressive four-under. They had to be to get the job done as this proved the stuffy American pairing you’d expect them to be.
“We played as well as we could play, so it just shows how tough it is in this format and in this great tournament,” admitted Donaldson as he savoured a winning debut.
When they set out, their team was heading for defeat in the fourballs. It was important, therefore, that Donaldson and Westwood got the home fans cheering again and they didn’t disappoint.
The Europeans turned for home with their noses just in front before giving themselves a bit of breathing space by holing some crucial putts on the back nine.
At the 11th, Westwood rolled in one from 12 feet for a birdie, celebrating the success by standing motionless as the crowd went wild around him. Making his ninth Ryder Cup appearance, the former world No 1 then dropped a ten-foot par putt to half the next.
Donaldson pushed their tee shot at the 14th into thick rough. Westwood did well to coax one on to the green and the Welshman made amends by draining one down the hill from 20 feet. With the Americans in close and subsequently making birdie, too, that was crucial.
You just knew, though, that Furyk and Kuchar wouldn’t give up the point without a real fight. After Donaldson’s drive at the 16th found a heavy lie in the left rough, the Europeans had to lay up short of the water. Furyk got close to the green with the second shot for the Americans, who won that with a birdie.
At the 17th, Furyk safely found the green. As Westwood’s tee shot sailed through the air, Kuchar’s dad, Peter, didn’t exactly sit on the fence as he was heard to say: “Get in the back bunker.” It stayed out and that was halved in pars.
After both pairings had played their second shots to the last, the Americans had by far the most difficult chip. Admittedly from a poor lie, Kuchar made a hash of it and that was that. “Wow,” declared Donaldson, who qualified for this team by winning in the Czech Republic and simply hasn’t taken his foot off the pedal since then. “It’s quite an experience and to be playing in my first Ryder Cup [match] with Lee was just incredible.”
The feeling was mutual. “It was kind of watching somebody take to it like a duck to water,” said the former world No 1. “There was no doubt in my mind that Jamie was up to the task. He just played great out there, never missed a shot.
“Between us, we were about four-under and that was a high-quality match in these kind of conditions.”