LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Lee Westwood shook his head, his eyes said it all: "Who does this guy think he is?"
Westwood and Soren Hansen pulled out a gutsy halve by winning the 18th Friday versus the American pair of Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes on Day 1 of the Ryder Cup Matches at Valhalla Golf Club.
The teams didn't speak much during the match. Westwood saved his words for afterwards.
"You walk a fine line when you start doing that sort of thing between, using the crowd to your advantage when you're at home," Westwood said.
"I don't mind then they're raising their arms and whooping the crowd up, but there's no need to do it between shots."
Westwood was specifically referring to the 12th hole, when Weekley made his birdie putt and raised his arms to the crowd, which sent them into a tizzy of "Boo's!"
The Americans haven't had much to cheer about the last few Ryder Cup Matches. They take their first lead into Saturday since 1995. The last time the Europeans complained about American celebration it was after Justin Leonard's bomb on the 17th at The Country Club in Brookline and the ensuing mayhem - all coming before Olazabal could hit his 50-plus foot putt.
Weekley wasn't offering any apologies. He was just Boo being Boo.
"Well, you can't control the crowd," he said. "And at the same time, we was trying to keep them positive and keep us positive."
He might have been using his animations to relieve some nerves. The Ryder Cup rookie said they were flying today.
"You want to run over and puke," he said of his state on the first tee.
But rather than blow chunks, he hooted, hollered and riled up Valhalla's home crowd to the max, playing with home-stater J.B. Holmes. After a rocky start versus Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen, they turned things around on the ninth hole and took the lead on the 12th.
While the books will show the match was just a halve, the roars echoed through Valhalla's back nine as the U.S. took two of the three other matches and a three point lead after Day 1.
One of the most criticized decisions on the European side today was Nick Faldo's decision to keep Ian Poulter and Justin Rose together for the afternoon matches after they lost to Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell in the morning.
But it's not that easy to label Faldo a dunce on this one. Captains must have their P.M. pairings in by noon. At that time, only the first match of the morning had finished, Rose and Poulter were all square and had been leading most of the match.
Faldo said afterwards he wouldn't mind revisiting this rule.
"The captain's jobs are tough enough as it is," he remarked. "Paul and I both commented on that yesterday. Maybe that rule could be reviewed to make things a little bit easier."
Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis, who both sat out the morning round, were the only American team to lose Friday, coming at the hands of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, who lost their morning match together. In fact, Stricker and Curtis never led, falling behind on the sixth hole for good before losing 4 and 2.
"We kind of left each other hanging every hole," said Curtis. "When you're playing best ball, you can't do that. You've got to be both in the fairway, both on the green and give yourself both looks at birdies, and we didn't do that today."
Poulter and Rose will be paired for the third straight match, the only pairing on the European team to do so heading into Saturday morning's foursomes.
September 20, 2008
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.
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