U.S. opens up commanding Ryder Cup lead after morning session Saturday

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley remained the hottest pairing for the U.S. side, routing Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, 7 and 6. Both are <a href="http://www.golf.com/leaderboard/ryder-cup/yr/2012"><u>sitting out the afternoon</u></a>.
Robert Beck / SI

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Saturday morning brought a repeat of the most enduring images from Friday as super-rookie Keegan Bradley and revitalized veteran Phil Mickelson continued to wreak havoc as Team USA's two-man wrecking crew.

Going off second in the morning's alternate-shot matches, Bradley and Mickelson improved to 3-0 by hammering Europe's Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, 7 and 6, as the Americans took a commanding 8-4 lead heading into the afternoon four-balls at the 39th Ryder Cup matches at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

(Related: Live blog | Leaderboard)

The Yanks will need 14 ½ points to win back the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008. The 1999 European team, which led 8-4 at Brookline after three sessions, was the last side to cough up such a commanding lead.

"The European side has had some great teammates with Seve and Ollie, and some others," said Mickelson, referring to Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, this year's European captain. "But to be able to share this experience with Keegan and partake in his great play and experience the Ryder Cup together has been really awesome. We've had so much fun. The crowd has provided so much energy, and it's brought our best golf out."

Despite the theatrics of Bradley and Mickelson, who put up six birdies and no bogeys and needed only 12 holes to close out the Europeans, U.S. captain Davis Love III benched the dynamic duo for the Saturday afternoon matches, conserving their strength for the all-important Sunday singles session.

(Alan Shipnuck: Mickelson and Bradley are head over heels)

Tiger Woods, who lost both matches Friday, sat out Saturday morning.

"I think what everybody on our team needed was a break at some point," said Love, who added that Mickelson requested to sit the afternoon matches.

As they did Friday afternoon, the Americans won three of the four matches Saturday morning. Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, who had won their only match Friday, held off Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia, 2 and 1.

"It's pretty painful," said Colsaerts, who was a far cry from the terror that hit Medinah on Friday afternoon, when he made eight birdies and an eagle. Garcia chipped in for birdie on 16 to close the gap to only 1 down, but Colsaerts rinsed his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole to effectively doom Europe's chances. "When you are in a game that you have the chance to go all the way to 18 or get something out of it, it's a big difference. It's very, very painful."

Ian Poulter and Justin Rose beat Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson 1 up in a match that included more bogeys than birdies, salvaging Europe's only point.

Playing in the anchor match, Jim Furyk and rookie Brandt Snedeker avenged Friday's loss to Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, beating the Ulstermen 1 up. Snedeker again missed his tee shot right on 18, but into a bunker this time, and Furyk was able to reach the green with their second shot. Snedeker missed the birdie putt, and in a gracious gesture, McDowell and McIlroy conceded Furyk's three-foot par putt on 18, giving the match to the Americans, who have the Cup well in their sights.

"The way [Furyk] played on 15 through 18 was just phenomenal," Snedeker said. "It makes my job a lot easier. My job is not to mess it up at that point. I did my best to try to do that on 18, but he bailed me out and played great."

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