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Mickelson loves teaming up with lively Bradley

Updated: October 30, 2012 6:13AM

Phil Mickelson was happy to play with Keegan Bradley in both Ryder Cup sessions Friday at Medinah. Really, really happy.

“I love, love playing with this man,” Mickelson gushed. “He’s just so fun, loves the game and plays with such excitement. And, man, can he roll the rock.”

Well, yeah. That helps, too.

Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion and a Ryder Cup rookie, was the star of the day, as he and Mickelson combined for two points as the Americans took a 5-3 lead.

Bradley made four big putts in the morning 4-and-3 win over Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia — who were a combined 14-0-1 in foursomes (alternate shot) play — including a 20-foot birdie to win it on 15 that set off a wild celebration.

It only got better in fourball (best ball) play, as Bradley and Mickelson led wire-to-wire in a 2-and-1 win over Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Bradley made six birdies in that match. The 26-year-old’s energy level never seemed to wane. He celebrated Mickelson’s clinching 7-iron off the par-3 17th tee as excitedly as any of his own shots. “It could be the best day of my life,” Bradley said.

Tough calls

Both captains raised some eyebrows with the afternoon selections. Davis Love III kept Tiger Woods in the lineup despite his morning struggles. And Jose Maria Olazabal sat Ryder Cup stalwarts Donald, Garcia and Ian Poulter (who teamed with Justin Rose to beat Woods and Steve Stricker in the morning). All 24 players on the two rosters got in on the action.

Poulter was a particular surprise, given his 9-3 record. Still, he was thrilled just to beat Woods, who has handed him two of those three career losses. When asked if he was surprised to be sitting while Woods played in the afternoon, Poulter said: “Yeah, but he’s Tiger Woods.”

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