Golfers from Dallas-Fort Worth have been instrumental in helping the U.S. build an early 3-1 ead in this morning's action at the Ryder Cup in Louisville, Ky. It marks the first time since 1991 that the U.S. has been ahead after the opening session at the biennial matches.
Between them, the four local players -- Colleyville's Chad Campbell, Dallas' Justin Leonard, Dallas' Anthony Kim and Plano's Hunter Mahan -- helped score 2 1/2 of the Americans' total points. Leonard and Mahan played together in an alternate-shot match and scored the first point of the Ryder Cup with a 3&2 victory over Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey.
Kim, playing with Phil Mickelson, dropped a five-foot par putt at No. 18 to rescue a hard-earned halve in their match against Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson. The U.S. team was three holes down with six to play before Kim and Mickelson birdied three consecutive holes to square the match. It remained square at No. 18, where Harrington missed a 10-footer for birdie that would have won it before Kim -- who had butchered a bunker shot moments earlier -- responed with a clutch par putt to give the U.S. a half-point.
Campbell, playing with Stewart Cink, struck argulably the biggest shot of the opening, alternate-shot session. His 5-iron approach from 196 yards at the 18th green stopped 18 feet above the hole, giving Cink an eagle putt and turning up the heat on the Europeans in an all-square match. After Cink missed the eagle putt, leaving Campbell with a 2-foot birdie opportunity, the Europeans found themselves needing to sink a 12-foot birdie putt of their own to earn a half point. Instead, Justin Rose sent the birdie attempt past the left side of the hole and past the U.S. team's mark. When teammate Ian Poulter failed to make the short comeback putt for par, the Europeans conceded Campbell's birdie effort and the Americans won that match, 1-up.
In the final morning match, the Kenny Perry-Jim Furyk tandem earned a halve with Sergio Garcia-Lee Westwood to give the underdog Americans a surprising, 3-1 lead heading into the afternoon session. The last time the U.S. held the lead after the opening session, at the 1991 matches (a similar 3-1 margin), the U.S. went on to win, 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.
In the afternoon session, which just began, three of the four D-FW golfers are back in action. The Leonard-Mahan team remains intact and will square off against Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez in a best-ball match. Also, the Kim-Mickelson due is back in action during the afternoon sesson. They are paired against Harrington and Graeme McDowell.
Campbell is not playing in the afternoon session. Based on the afternoon pairings, U.S. captain Paul Azinger will use all 12 players on his roster in at least one match today.
_ Jimmy Burch