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Ryder Cup 2014 results: The best and worst from USA's Friday four-ball win

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Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley come back late to knock off Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, changing the momentum from much of the first session and clinching a one-point advantage for the USA.

Harry How

The first four of 28 points have been doled out at the 2014 Ryder Cup, and after Friday mornings four-ball session, the United States leads 2.5 to 1.5. The morning was one of those typical Ryder Cup sessions where the momentum completely flipped in the final two hours. The day started ugly for Tom Watson's group but things slowly shifted to their favor after the first match got off the course. They now have all the momentum going into the afternoon alternate-shot foursomes session. Here are some of the highlights from Friday morning at Gleneagles.

Best Match

Nothing beats the Ryder Cup

The anchor match was about as heavyweight a matchup we could have asked for on paper. The Euro side put two of the top three players in the world ranking out against Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, the heart and soul from the 2012 USA team. Mickelson and Bradley never lost a two-man game at Medinah, but they were underdogs against Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy. Any possible combination from anywhere in the world would be underdogs against Rory and Sergio after what we witnessed from those two this summer.

While the play wasn't particularly sharp, this was most competitive match of the opening session. It spotlighted the best and worst of Sergio -- a hole-out from the bunker to put Europe up early, and then a a patented "Sergio Stroke" putt that completely missed the hole from just a few feet away.

McIlroy was relatively quiet for the No. 1 player in the world, rolling in a birdie on the first hole and doing little else afterwards. Garcia's world-class ball-striking went away over the final two holes, and that opened the door for the Americans to win two of the final three holes to steal a point. Keegan Bradley converted a flawless eagle at the 16th to pull USA from 1-down to all square going. The eagle came at the most critical point in the match, when the USA had lost its 2-up lead and actually fallen behind. As soon as Bradley rolled it in, he knew he'd ended the slide and erupted in his usual manner.

That set up a huge opportunity at the 18th hole, and Mickelson poured in a short birdie putt to snatch the point and totally swing things in the USA's favor at the end of the first session, putting the USA up 2.5 to 1.5.

Most Surprising -- Rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed dominate Europe's Ryder Cup hero

This is what makes the Ryder Cup a great event. Just when you think you have it figured out, you realize you know nothing at all. Many expected Ian Poulter to be the star of a match that featured three rookies. Poulter was shaky while his the American rookie duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed played like a couple guys who don't have all baggage from recent USA defeats.. A combination of excellent iron play and clutch putting propelled the American Ryder Cup rookies to 5&4 victory over the much hyped Poulter and hometown hero Stephen Gallacher, the only Scot on the European roster. 

Coming into this morning's session, it was considered a gamble for captain Tom Watson to pair Speith and Reed together, leaving four veterans on the bench. And while it might not be surprising to see Spieth and Reed win, the fashion in which they did it was something that few could have predicted.

This was just about as big as blowouts can get at the Ryder Cup. In fact, this morning's match came close to the biggest margin of victory in Ryder Cup history for the four-ball format. In 1981, Lee Trevino and Jerry Pate defeated Nick Faldo and Sam Torrance 7 and 5. For this type of beat down to come from two of the youngest players in the event is certainly unexpected. It is also encouraging for the rest of the weekend.

Both Reed and Spieth were seen as question marks entering the week -- neither had played particularly well over the second half of the season. Given their emotional personalities and lack of experience, the two twenty-somethings could have been a liability for an underdog United States team. If they continue to play the way they did this morning, they will be a huge asset and could be candidates to play both sessions on Saturday. Watson decided to put his hottest team on the bench for Friday afternoon, which was a bit confusing.

Best Dressed

The fans always play an integral role at the Ryder Cup. The best we've seen so far on Friday were actually this fans supporting the USA. The did, however, embrace the local culture and wore their colors as kilts.

Most disappointing -- Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson bomb out

Simpson was the last guy to make the American team, and the shaky form that had him on the bubble showed throughout his morning match. The so-called "Christian Connection" has had plenty of success in past team competitions, but we may not see them together again this year. It was that bad.

It was such a blowout that it ended early on the 14th green before the two could ever make a birdie in the entire match, which is almost impossible in a two-man best ball game. That's rare for regular weekend best ball matches with mid-range handicaps, let alone the Ryder Cup with the 12 best America can put out there. You have to at least fall into one birdie between the two of you at some point.

It started on the very first hole, when Simpson embarrassingly popped his drive up and barely made the front edge of the fairway, and Bubba pushed his wide left into a brutal lie in the rough. Neither guy could make a putt the entire match, and Simpson was particularly poor with his anchored putter. It was revealed this week that he made the team thanks to some last-ditch text messages to Tom Watson the morning captain's picks were due. After today's lead-off disaster, we might not see him again until Sunday.

Best Photo

It was fun to watch the scene at the first tee come together before before the matches started, and a prompt reminder why the Ryder Cup is so different from every other golf event. Fans reportedly started gathering around the gates and the first tee grandstands as early as 4:40 a.m. local time, almost three hours before the first match. It was estimated that almost 3,000 people would pack the grandstands and it was nearly full just 20 minutes after the gates opened. There were pre-dawn chants in the chilly darkness and spotlights that created a "club-like" scene. There were several amazing photos of the crowd as the sun rose and the players started to arrive at the first tee box, but this was our favorite.

Worst Shot

There are several options for this category, such as Webb's pop-up with the very first tee shot of the Cup or Bradley scooping his iron a mile short and to the right on a par-3. But the ugliest looking shot of the morning session was this duff into the pond by Ian Poulter (via Kyle Porter/CBS).

That is one where you cover your eyes as soon as you see the ball flight. It was mentioned several times that even though Poulter is this European legend, he was coming off a pretty ugly season in which he never really contended on the PGA Tour. He was still expected to flip it into Ryder Cup mode, and given that he's struggled in the past during the first session, there's still not cause for panic. But some of these ugly swings and the way Reed/Spieth rolled wasn't an ideal start for one of Europe's most important players.

American MVP

Jimmy Walker carried Rickie Fowler to halved point on the back nine of their match against Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn. The American duo were on the ropes for most of the inward nine, and trailed from the very first hole. But thanks to a couple chip-ins from Walker, one from a bunker and another another to steal the 16th hole late, the USA was finally able to pull even on the 18th green. It was a critical half-point for the Americans, and Walker drained the moderate-length putt to split the point. Given his two chip-ins and that putt, Walker rounded out an impressive debut from the USA's three rookies.

Here's where things stand after the completion of the opening session:

USA leads, 2.5 points to 1.5 points
Session 1 -- Friday Four Ball
Match Tee Time USA Europe Results
1 2:35 a.m. ET Bubba Watson & Webb Simpson Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson EUR wins, 5&4
2 2:50 a.m. ET Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker Thomas Bjorn & Martin Kaymer Halved
3 3:05 a.m. ET Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed Stephen Gallacher & Ian Poulter USA wins, 5&4
4 3:20 a.m. ET Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson Sergio Garcia & Rory McIlroy USA wins, 1-up
Session 2 -- Friday Foursomes
Match Tee Time USA Europe Results
5 8:15 a.m. ET Jim Furyk & Matt Kuchar Jamie Donaldson & Lee Westwood
6 8:30 a.m. ET Hunter Mahan & Zach Johnson Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson
7 8:45 a.m. ET Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker Sergio Garcia & Rory McIlroy
8 9:00 a.m. ET Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson Graeme McDowell & Victor Dubuisson