Updated: October 30, 2012 6:13AM
And on the second day, Tiger Woods rested.
For the first time in his Ryder Cup career, Woods will miss a session. He’s not among the eight Americans who will play foursome Saturday morning.
The expectation leading up to the Ryder Cup at Medinah was that Woods wouldn’t play all five matches, as he always had done. But Woods made U.S. captain Davis Love III’s decision that much easier, losing both of his matches with Steve Stricker on Friday.
The United States leads Europe 5-3.
“I didn’t play very good this morning at all,” Woods said. “I was hitting it awful and not doing anything well. But I hit it good this afternoon. I drove it great this afternoon and was in position, but we ran into a guy who just made absolutely everything.”
Woods’ halftime adjustment with swing coach Sean Foley between rounds might be the silver lining for the Americans.
The U.S. team leaned heavily on the excitement and exuberance of younger players such as Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner and the afternoon pairing of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Those players seemed unfazed by the pressure, but their mettle will be tested Saturday and Sunday.
It’s easy to question Love’s decision to call on Woods — let alone Stricker — for the afternoon Friday after Dufner and Zach Johnson played so well in the morning. But Woods straightened out his drives, nailed some putts and had seven birdies in the afternoon round.
His performance normally would’ve contributed to a win, but Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts carried teammate Lee Westwood (zero birdies), making putt after putt. By the end of the round, Colsaerts had eight birdies and an eagle.
And yet Woods lined up for a 12-foot putt on the 18th hole that would’ve earned the Americans a half-point, except the ball rolled just over the left edge.
“I’ve watched him hit a lot of golf balls this week,” Love said of Woods, “and he’s hitting the ball very well.”
In the morning, Woods looked lost. He and Stricker lost 2 and 1 to Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who sank several clutch putts and chipped in from a bunker. But Woods started to stroke the ball better in the afternoon, and he showed more emotion than usual when he knocked in a putt on the 17th green.
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday, Woods — he of the 13-16-2 Ryder Cup record — will look for redemption with Stricker.
“We’ve got a two-point lead after the first day, so we’re off to a good start,” Stricker said. “We didn’t contribute anything, but we’ve got a couple more days yet, so we can’t hang our heads and have to keep fighting.”