IT WAS the match that Paul McGinley thought would provide energy and electricity for his team. There was no spark whatsoever, though, as Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter were handed a thumping.
Between them, the two rookies, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, shared six birdies as they took to Ryder Cup action like ducks to water. That Gallacher and Poulter could only muster one between them was astonishing, really.
Gripped by the tightness of making his debut, Gallacher found parts of the course he has never been close to in compiling such an impressive record on the PGA Centenary layout.
Poulter, too, was badly out of sorts, the tone for his day being set when he missed from two and a half feet for par at the first to allow the Americans to get off to a flying start.
Having failed to finish the opening hole – a pushed tee shot found sand and another one in the same direction failed to clear the marshland – Gallacher should have been settled down by a good two-putt birdie for a half at the second.
The same could be said of Poulter when he rolled in a ten-footer down the slope at the third, again for a half. This, though, wasn’t the “Mr Ryder Cup” we’ve come to know. His game has been patchy this season. It looks as though he is still not firing on all cylinders.
Spieth let the Europeans off the hook by failing to convert a good birdie chance at the third before Reed rolled in a 25-footer for a 2 at the fifth.
A member of a winning US side in the 2010 Junior Ryder Cup here, Spieth then put them three up as he converted a nine-footer for birdie at the next. There, Gallacher, fast growing exasperated, tugged his approach from a good position to get even closer than the American.
The Scot did a much better job with his second into the next only to miss from no more than three feet to win the hole. You could just feel his disappointment about that and the huge crowd on the hill looking down on the green, too.
Astonishingly, Poulter had fluffed a pitch at the eighth into a bunker. Another bad one at the ninth found the water. Reed birdied that; Spieth the next. Suddenly, the Americans were five up. Another Reed birdie – his fourth of the day – at the 11th increased their cushion before the Europeans won their only hole when a par proved good enough at the next.
There was to be no miraculous fightback, though, as it was game over following two halves.
On reflection, Reed and Spieth had nothing to lose against Poulter, the European talisman in recent Ryder Cups, and the local hero. Poor as their opponents were on the day, the two Americans were mighty impressive.
“It feels incredible,” said Spieth of the success. “We kind of convinced the captain that we were a great best-ball team – that was our strong format. It means a lot that he has put trust in us.”