Ryder Cup Day 1: Faldo’s Dirt on Sergio

Finally, after weeks of safe-and-syrupy, make-me-gag nice-nice leading up to the competition, there was enough down-to-the-final-hole drama as well as game-on, cut-the-crap honesty today from Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller to make it almost worth getting up at 3 a.m. Saturday to watch the Ryder Cup.

The wind chill for the opening day morning matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup was 35 degrees F, but the action and commentary were red hot.

U.S. rookies Jordan Speith and Patrick Reed smoked Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher, while Keegan Bradley did much of the heavy lifting for Phil Mickelson in their thrilling, down-to-the-last-hole victory over Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. And Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker came up with a gutty finish to halve their match against Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn.

“It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive.”

So coffee was not needed even though the TV coverage began in the wee-wee hours Friday morning, especially as commentators pulled off the gloves. Oh, there was still plenty of the sometimes entertaining but always “let’s play nice” comments that led up to today, such as this line from U.S. captain Tom Watson when asked about his 2-1/2 to 1-1/2 lead after the morning matches. Predictably, he said it was early and that the important thing was to finish strong in each match and in the course of the three-day competition. “I told my players,” said Watson, “It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive.”

Johnny Miller was especially sharp in his analysis. When European captain Paul McGinley said he was not disappointed by the loss of McIlroy and Garcia, Miller smirked, saying how funny it is when people get in Ryder Cup conditions and fail to tell the truth.

Nick Faldo was also in good form. When Garcia’s game was sagging on the 18th hole and his third shot went deep into the thick green-side rough, Faldo said that Garcia would need “a little bit of luck and a little bit of pixie dust on this one.”

Earlier, Faldo had dissed Garcia’s play during the 2008 Ryder Cup. Faldo, who was the captain of the Euro team that lost that year, referred to Garcia — who was winless today — as “useless” and didn’t hold his punches when he said that Garcia had “a bad attitude.”

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