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They Might be Giant Killers
Who would have thought this? Other than maybe Davis Love III, who now appears to have some sort of secret insight into the dark art of Ryder Cup matchups, or maybe he's working on his forthcoming book, which will be entitled "How to Take a Team of Thoroughbred Professional Golfers and Properly Match Them Up so That They Play to Expectations."
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. West Coast meets East Coast somewhere in the middle of America, somewhere in Chicago, on the massive layout at Medinah.
Love sent Bradley, a fiery rookie in the stormy Ryder Cup seas, out with Mickelson, a rudderless (until now?) match-play veteran in search of a compass, in this morning's foursomes against Luke Donald (or, "The Man Nobody Really Knew Was No. 1 in the World") and that other fiery guy, Sergio Garcia.
And for Mickelson and Bradley, it was as though the lights suddenly went on; as though the engine finally started and they could simultaneously put the pedal to the metal on their Ryder Cup careers.
Bradley made four big birdie putts, including a 15-footer to clinch their 4-and-3 upset over Donald and Garcia. It was the European duo's first loss in alternate-shot play - they had been 4-0 together, and Garcia had a career record of 8-0-1.
Mickelson was like a kid in the candy store.
"He played some of the best golf and to be his partner was an awesome experience," Mickelson said. "I love, love playing with this man. He's just so fun, loves the game and plays with such excitement. And man, can he roll the rock."
As the winning putt rolled into the cup, Bradley let loose with a scream that could be heard all across Medinah while his caddie twirled the flag stick like a baton. Bradley pumped his fist, and he and Mickelson exchanged a hand slap and a hug.
"It was one of the most memorable days of my life so far," Bradley said after the match.
But Love, who we now call The Wizard, wasn't done with his newly-found Dynamic Duo. He immediately sent them out in the afternoon four-ball match to take on the Europeans' strongest pair, Rory "I Am the Legitimate World No. 1" McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, the hero of the Euros' win in the 2010 Ryder Cup.
And what did Mickelson and Bradley, these Brothers in Arms, do? They got Team Europe's Boy Wonders in a hammerlock and wouldn't let go, up as much as 4-up after eight holes before cruising to a 2-and-1 victory.
Afterward, Bradley, basking in the glow of two unexpected wins on the first day of his first Ryder Cup, was asked by a reporter if he had any energy left. "Oh, baby," he said. "I wish I could go 36 more."
Can you believe it? A man who wants the ball when the game is on the line. Davis Love III must be grinning from ear to ear right about now.
Tom Cade is the editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, published by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. He is also the current president of the Northwest Golf Media Association, for which he served as managing director in 2005-06. From 2004-07 he produced television commercials for golf resorts and travel destinations.