MEDINAH, Ill. -- Burying their opponents under a barrage of birdies perhaps unseen at any Ryder Cup, the United States romped through three of four best-ball matches to grab a 5-3 lead after the opening day Friday.

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson began the blitz with 10 birdies in just 14 holes as they threatened the Ryder Cup record for biggest blowout. Though they fell short, a 5-and-4 rout of Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson set the tone in the afternoon at Medinah Country Club.

Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson stayed hot with nine birdies, notching their second victory of the day with a 2-and-1 win over world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar followed with seven birdies for a 3-and-2 win over Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.

In all, the U.S. force tallied 35 birdies in the afternoon.

"This has been one of the biggest highs that we've had," said Mickelson, who went 2-0 on opening day for the first time in nine Ryder Cups.

Tiger Woods even got into the act, though his seven birdies -- plus two from partner Steve Stricker -- fell short of the colossal Ryder Cup debut of Nicolas Colsaerts. The Belgian Bomber went 10 under on his own ball as he and Lee Westwood posted a 1-up victory for Europe.

"Nicolas probably had one of the greatest putting rounds I've ever seen," said Woods, on the losing end of two of the three European points Friday. "We ran into a guy who made everything. I don't know what he shot. He was like 7 under through 10. I quit counting after that."


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Friday's U.S. surge followed a 2-2 tie in the morning session, in which the Americans turned around two alternate-shot matches after the scoreboard briefly showed Europe leading in all four.

"It's nice to see those 5-and-4s and 3-and-2s," U.S. captain Davis Love III said. "It's nice when you get on a roll like that."

Watson and Simpson, after sitting out the morning, wasted no time exerting their superiority in the afternoon. Simpson birdied No. 1, Watson knocked down a birdie at No. 3, and they were off and running.

"When you have a partner that you think can make every putt, it makes it a lot easier," Watson said.

The European duo heated up with four birdies after the turn, keeping them from suffering the biggest blowout in any Ryder Cup paired match. The mark remains at 7 and 6, first achieved in 1979 by Tom Kite and Hale Irwin and matched by Paul Azinger/Mark O'Meara in 1991.

Deadpanned Hanson: "The train left on the front nine."

In the morning, the Americans battled back from a slow start in alternate shot.

Bradley drained four birdies as he and Mickelson scored a 4-and-3 win over Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald. One match back, Jason Dufner teamed with Zach Johnson for a 3-and-2 win over Westwood and Francesco Molinari.

"This is literally what I've dreamt about since I was a little kid," Bradley said. "I got to do it next to my idol all day."

Meanwhile, the Woods/Stricker loss to Rose and Ian Poulter was far more lopsided than the 2-and-1 score indicated.

Woods sprayed his drives seemingly from Evanston to Aurora. His opening drive nestled up against a boundary fence.

Later, Woods found a cart path with his drive at No. 5 and beaned a spectator at the par-5 seventh. And his tee shot at the short par-4 15th seemed headed for another county when it caromed off a tree branch -- and wound up 30 yards in front of the green.

"It wasn't pretty, but that's match play," Poulter said. "We did play better golf."

  • For the first time in his Ryder Cup career, Woods will be benched for Saturday morning's alternate-ball matches. Love had said all week he didn't want players to be in all five matches so they could conserve energy for Sunday's singles matches. "We just don't want guys to be worn out. We need Tiger and Steve (Stricker) in the afternoon. We need Tiger and Steve on Sunday," Love said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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